VATICAN CITY, AUG. 30, 2002 (Zenit.org).- Here is another of the reflections presented during the June videoconference of theologians entitled “Pneumatology from the Second Vatican Council to Our Times.” It was 11th such videoconference sponsored by the Congregation for the Clergy.
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The Gift of Knowledge
Father Gary Devery, OFM Cap — Sydney, Australia
The first work of the Holy Spirit is to grace us with the knowledge of ourselves. This self-knowledge taught by the Holy Spirit is existential. It is knowledge of our deepest reality. It is knowledge of the reasons for our loss of hope, profound sadness, and deep suspicion of the events of life; all that the consequence of our sin works in us.
The first work of the Holy Spirit is to convince us of our sin. This is a task of salvific “convincing of sin,” as the encyclical letter “Dominum et Vivicantem” (No. 28) teaches. It is a salvific convincing of sin because sin does not have the last word. It is a convincing that is not accusative but diagnostic. The convincing of sin is orientated by the Holy Spirit toward the greater mystery — that of the “mysterium pietatis,” as the postsynodal apostolic exhortation “Reconciliatio et Paenitentia” (Nos. 19-20) teaches.
The Holy Spirit draws us into a journey of conversion, or rather a descent into conversion, a type of kenosis; an emptying of ourselves of our egoism. The Word of God, especially as experienced in full and active participation in the liturgy fulfils the words of the prophet Hosea, “Let us know, let us strive to know Yahweh; …This is why I have hacked them to pieces by means of the prophets, why I have killed them with words from my mouth, why my sentence will blaze forth like the dawn — for faithful love is what pleases me, not sacrifice; knowledge of God, not burnt offerings” (6:3,5-6).
The word of God begins us on the journey of knowing ourselves profoundly. When we are salvifically convinced of our sin we arrive at humility.
Living in humility by the grace of the Holy Spirit the Christian journey of permanent conversion can be lived in simplicity. With this self-knowledge revealed by the Holy Spirit the Christian has discernment on his life. Discernment is a principle aspect of the gift of knowledge given by the Holy Spirit. Timaeus, the blind man of Jericho in Mark’s Gospel, reveals to us this way of discipleship (see Mark 10:46-52). With his “blindness” overcome by the power of Jesus, he now has discernment on his life and follows along the way keeping his eyes fixed on Jesus.
It is this gift of knowledge, especially in the aspect of discernment, which turns the eyes of the disciple of Christ toward the “mysterium pietatis.” Here the Christian arrives at the knowledge revealed by the Holy Spirit. It is the mystery of our faith. It is knowledge that human wisdom cannot penetrate, as St. Paul proclaimed to the community at Corinth, “I did not come with any brilliance of oratory or wise argument to announce to you the mystery of God. I was resolved that the only knowledge I would have while I was with you was the knowledge of Jesus, and of him as the crucified Christ” (1 Corinthians 2:1-2). It is the Holy Spirit that gives to us the knowledge of God. It is an existential knowledge of God that ‘enables us to cry out, “Abba, Father!”‘ (see Romans 8:14-17).