Un-noticeable presence.

Homily 266 – Eighth Sunday of Pascha Holy Pentecost
Holy Transfiguration Orthodox Church, Ames, Iowa
June 4, 2017

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.

We see and conceptualize many things in thinking about the Holy Spirit.

Some see a power source, enabling us to have the power to do things. God’s strength.

Some people see a therapist, a counselor, enabling us to have discernment, and make decisions. God’s wisdom.

Some see a comforter – the name our Lord used – which enables us to continue in the face of adversity. God’s perseverance.

And the truth is all of these things. And so much more. Because the truth is that the Holy Spirit is God. Infinite. Incomprehensible.

He is God, indwelling within each of us – indwelling within all of us. He is a force, a person, united with us and united with God.

The dynamic is perhaps unexpected. If we cooperate with God, pursue his mind and will, then the presence of the Holy Spirit is strong – yet we likely don’t feel anything.

That is our natural, unfallen, created state. We don’t feel or think or experience anything different – because He is part of us.

I don’t think about breathing, or my heartbeat – or how to reach out and grasp something.

I don’t think about walking, talking, or any other natural behavior.

And I don’t think about the presence of the Holy Spirit.

However – if I retreat into myself and focus on myself and my will and my desires and my actions – the Holy Spirit seems distant, separate. We feel acutely alone, and we notice our alone-ness.

The Holy Spirit is still with us, however. It is we who have moved.

We cannot pursue or obtain the Holy Spirit – because the Holy Spirit is with us from the beginning – from our very baptism.

We cannot pray that the Holy Spirit be present, or manifested in our lives – because that’s not how He works. He is here. With us. Always.

What are we to do?

We pray that we might deny ourselves. That we might become intently focused on others, and loving them and meeting their needs.

The Holy Spirit is already here – we pray that we might place our being in subjection to Him.

God will do nothing without our permission. That’s more than a verbal assent to God.

It is active cooperation with Him.

We cannot say “Lord, save me – Lord, unite me with you” and then go about our self-absorbed business.

We learn to manifest the Holy Spirit – to cooperate with Him – by first and foremost serving others.

It does not come naturally for us, because we are fallen. We have to work at it. We have to practice. We may even have to force ourselves.

At first, at least.

But then it begins to be a habit, then begins to take hold, and begins to consume us. And in that consuming of ourselves – our ego, our self-image, our self-importance – we become united with the Holy Spirit.

United with God.

No act of giving is beneath us. Just like Christ – the Creator and Source of all Life – came into the world in a manger, and served everyone, bending down to wash the feet of the Apostles.

We begin to recognize that nothing is ours. That everything – beginning with our possessions but including our mind and our energy – everything belongs to God.

It is then that the Holy Spirit becomes vivid.

Even then – that presence is visible not to us, but to others.

We likely will not notice the presence of the Holy Spirit within us. We likely will not notice the presence of the Uncreated Light manifesting itself – clothing us.

But others will. Those around us will see – and will notice the fruit of the Spirit manifesting Himself within us.

We may, with those at the Last Judgement, say to Our Lord “when did we see you hungry and feed you, or homeless and give you shelter, or in prison and visit you?”

And He will say, you never noticed it, but when you did it to the least of these my brothers and sisters, you did it to me. Enter into your rest, good and faithful servant.

You are no longer a servant. You are a child.

In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, One God.