Prophecy From a Catholic Perspective (25) – From Father, to Son, to Holy Spirit. God’s Progressive Revelation of Himself.

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Continuing through the Catechism of the Catholic Church as it relates to prophecy:

684 Through his grace, the Holy Spirit is the first to awaken faith in us and to communicate to us the new life, which is to “know the Father and the one whom he has sent, Jesus Christ.” But the Spirit is the last of the persons of the Holy Trinity to be revealed. St. Gregory of Nazianzus, the Theologian, explains this progression in terms of the pedagogy of divine “condescension”:

The Old Testament proclaimed the Father clearly, but the Son more obscurely. the New Testament revealed the Son and gave us a glimpse of the divinity of the Spirit. Now the Spirit dwells among us and grants us a clearer vision of himself. It was not prudent, when the divinity of the Father had not yet been confessed, to proclaim the Son openly and, when the divinity of the Son was not yet admitted, to add the Holy Spirit as an extra burden, to speak somewhat daringly…. By advancing and progressing “from glory to glory,” the light of the Trinity will shine in ever more brilliant rays.

686 The Holy Spirit is at work with the Father and the Son from the beginning to the completion of the plan for our salvation. But in these “end times,” ushered in by the Son’s redeeming Incarnation, the Spirit is revealed and given, recognized and welcomed as a person. Now can this divine plan, accomplished in Christ, the firstborn and head of the new creation, be embodied in mankind by the outpouring of the Spirit: as the Church, the communion of saints, the forgiveness of sins, the resurrection of the body, and the life everlasting.

The catechism points out that the Father was revealed explicitly in the Old Testament, whereas the Son was made known, but only truly understood within the context of the New Testament. Likewise, the Son’s divinity in the New Testament is made explicitly, whereas the Holy Spirit as a divine Person was something that was understood only with the passage of time and rigorous theological study and understanding. This progression shouldn’t make us uncomfortable. The spiritual often mirrors the physical. When we are born, we cannot care for ourselves at all. We creep, then we crawl, then we stand, then we walk, and finally we run. We progress, and yet we are no more human as adults as we were in our infancy.

Divine revelation sometimes takes time for its full impact and meaning to be understood.

It is evident here that, just as the Son ushered in the “end time” and displayed His critical part of salvation history, that the Holy Spirit likewise is called upon to have a crucial role in the wake of Christ’s Ascension. “I must decrease, that He must increase…” The Holy Spirit is now the dominant presence to us, and yet we so often “forget” this Person of the Trinity. The Holy Spirit is what stirs the faith in our hearts, is what gives us the ability to proclaim the name of Jesus as Savior. The Holy Spirit guides the Church and will be here until the end. The Divine Plan, in a way, is a plan in three stages, with each member of the Trinity playing the dominant role in each stage.

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