The solemnity of the Pentecost is an opportunity to reflect upon what it means to be a Christian. So often, we take our Christianess for granted and go about our life in such a secular fashion that it could conceal our Christian calling. We could be faithfully fulfilling our religious and liturgical observances, yet be falling short in living our Christian spirituality. I would like to reflect on our ‘being Christian’ through the words of the ancient Church Father, [Pseudo]Dionysius. He acknowledges that every created being exists eternally in the mind of God and is created through God’s “emanating love.” Thus, each of us essentially comes from God as “an effect of the out-flowing nature of the Divine Essence.” God is “at the centre of everything and everything has it for a destiny. It is before all things and in it all things hold together. Because it is there the world has come to be and exists. All things long for it.” God is the essence of each of us, failing which we would have no entity.
As created beings, we are ultimately divine rays of Jesus himself. Reflecting upon the divine presence in the human being, Dionysius reminds us that, “The divinity of Jesus is the fulfilling cause of all, and the parts of that divinity are so related to the whole that it is neither whole nor part while being at the same time both whole and part. Within its total unity it contains part and whole, and it transcends these too and is antecedent to them. This perfection is found in the imperfect as the source of their perfection. But it also transcends perfection, and in the perfect it is manifest as transcending and anticipating their perfection. […] It is Being pervading all beings and remains unaffected thereby. It is supra-being beyond every being […] It is the measure of all things. It is eternity and is above and prior to eternity.”
Therefore, created beings have a purpose in God’s design and are invited (in union with Jesus) to grow in the order proper to them, always desiring/yearning for the Divine. All creation is standing “in assembly around Jesus” and embarking “upon the most blessed sight of him,” whereby “in the infinitely pure receptacle of their souls they receive the fullness of his spiritual gifts.” Being faithful to the divine essence and allowing the divine essence to reveal itself, through us, is our original calling. We are called to be images of God in all respects, reflecting the glow of God, the primordial light. God’s light, as in a ripple effect, needs to be passed on to the others.
To facilitate the passing on of God’s light we are assisted by the Holy Spirit, descended upon the apostles on the feast of the Pentecost. The Pentecost is considered as the official birthday of the Church. The Holy Spirit brings the Church into existence, enlivens it and facilitates its growth. The event of the Pentecost has great significance for our ‘being Christian.’ The outpouring of the Holy Spirit offered the believers the spiritual gifts. They are: Wisdom to make God the centre of one’s life. Understanding which is the ability to comprehend the meaning of God’s message. Knowledge to explore God’s revelation in faith. Counsel to choose and follow God’s plan. Fortitude to know and to do what is right. Piety which means true devotion. Fear of the Lord is the feeling of awe and amazement of the all-knowing, omnipresent God.
These gifts of the Holy Spirit are a “sacred light which clears the fog of ignorance from the eyes of the mind.” The Holy Spirit not only illumines the mind, but also renews the powers of their minds. It helps bring about a conversion, which is a restored loving participation in the Being of God.
Dionysius views this our return movement to be absorbed into the Divine, when we complete our earthly journey. He calls it the “divinisation of the created beings” wherein the created being will be assimilated into God’s Being. Our call to ‘be Christ of our status and calling, to strive to witness to the Divine Presence’ is to recognise our source and origin, and conscious in us.