God knows. This is a truth that is simple to express but one that is profoundly difficult to wrap our minds and understanding around. From the time that I was a child I have been living in this mystery, the mystery of God’s knowing. Of course you will be wanting to ask me what it is that God knows? “Everything“ is a little too simplistic and is not an answer that really communicates any understanding to me and so I would probably prefer to answer, “Life.” God knows life.
My grandfather was a shoemaker all his life, he knew shoes and people from all over town would bring him their favorite shoes and he would give them new life. My other grandfather was a farmer and he knew hard work and growing things, he knew the earth and its seasons, he brought things to life. God is Creator and he knows and understands life in the way that my grandfathers knew their crafts, from the inside, because it was a part of who they were. God knows life because it is something that is poured out from deep inside of him, something he shares with creation. God pours out life through his life-giving Spirit. Over the years I have come to believe in and trust the knowing of God. When I don’t understand the deeper and darker mysteries of life, the things that lay hidden in shadows and clouds of unknowing, I trust to the knowing of God. I understand why St. Paul would say that he wanted to know nothing except Jesus Christ and him crucified, because it was there on the cross that the fullness of life was revealed. When you look at the cross of Christ, you see a tree of life and a sacrifice of love. God knew that we had turned away from life in our sinning, for the wages of sin is death,and he knew that the only way to turn us back to life was a greater love.
God loves. This is another truth that is simple to express but that is a struggle to embrace in true understanding. God reveals his love in life. He doesn’t reveal love in an emotional or sentimental way but rather he reveals his love in the work he accomplishes. My grandfathers put love into everything that they did. You really couldn’t know them and the love that was in them until you saw them at work. They revealed their love in the way in which they gave of themselves to others. God reveals his love for creation in giving us his Son and in sending the Holy Spirit to accomplish the work of salvation. Our lives in Christ open us to the mystery of God’s love and help us to place our faith and trust in that love. Even when we do not love as we ought, God’s love is given to us to redeem us and restore life in us.
On Pentecost Sunday we celebrate the sending of God’s Spirit to his chosen ones, the apostles of the early Church, and the promise of God to be with the Church always through his indwelling Spirit. God plants his Spirit of life in our hearts and forms our inner being with loving hands into something that is glorious and full of life, into his image and likeness, into a newness of life in the Spirit, into a place of peace. This is the Holy Spirit of God. It is God’s knowing and loving. It is the work that God continues to accomplish in our midst until all is accomplished according to his will and purpose. God gives us knowing and loving as a gift that is poured out from heaven, from the eternal source. It is the gift of himself as the uncreated grace of the Holy Spirit.
God gives his gift of the Holy Spirit through word and sacrament in ways that we name Wisdom, Knowledge, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Piety, and Fear of the Lord (reverence and respect) (cf. Isaiah 11). These gifts accomplish the work of God in our lives and bear the fruits of the Spirit that we name love, peace, joy, patience, gentleness, goodness, faith, humility and temperance (cf. Galatians 5). Through the Holy Spirit we are formed as pastors, prophets, teachers, apostles, healers, pray-ers, marriage partners, parents and children of God to continue the work of God in building up the kingdom of God among us.
On this beautiful feast day of the Church we pray, “Come Holy Spirit, fill us with knowledge of the truth and a love for God and for one another, and renew the face of the earth.” God knows life, and we can know life by coming to know God. God loves his creation, and we can love God by loving one another and continuing his work. We celebrate our life in Christ and bring this life to bear on our communities, our families, our marriages and vocations and become living witnesses to God’s enduring presence in all of creation through the Spirit that binds us together as one.