Posted On May 25, 2024

Jesus + Holy Spirit = Dynamite 

Did you know that the same word used to describe the Holy Spirit’s relationship to Jesus is also the Greek root for “dynamite”? Dynamis (δύναμις, pronounced doo’-nam-is) can be translated as “strength, power, ability”. Luke’s Gospel tells us that after being tempted in the wilderness, “Jesus returned to Galilee in the power of the Spirit,” in the dynamis of the Spirit (Lk. 4:14).

How many words can you think of that derive from dynamis? Take dynamic, dynamo, and dynasty, just to name a few. Not to mention dynamite, which is synonymous to explosive force, whether used literally to describe a match set to nitroglycerin, or figuratively to pay homage to the next Whitney Houston or Leonardo diCaprio.

When the New Testament tells us about Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit, we hear about this dynamis. It is as if the Gospel is telling us that the Holy Spirit is Jesus’ dynamite. Imagine re-reading that verse: “Jesus returned to Galilee in the explosive force of the Spirit.” No wonder Jesus became really famous really fast (Lk 4:14).

All four Gospels recount the Baptism of Jesus, and all four describe the Holy Spirit descending upon Jesus like a dove. The average Hallmark greeting card tempts us to see the Holy Spirit as tame and gentle, but we cannot forget that the power of the Spirit is deeply present. In the language of Mark’s Gospel, it is the Spirit who “drives” Jesus into the desert (Mk 1:12). This Spirit is not tame.

“Who said anything about safe? ‘Course he isn’t safe. But he’s good. He’s the King, I tell you.” This is how C.S. Lewis describes Aslan, the allegorical lion-God in The Chronicles of Narnia.

We could apply these very words to the Holy Spirit: “Who said anything about tame? ‘Course he isn’t tame. But he’s good. He’s holy dynamite, I tell you.”

Pause to reflect: What if I were to live my relationship with the Holy Spirit recognizing He is this holy dynamite in me?

Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit was not only the explosive kind. A second dimension of Jesus’ relationship with the Holy Spirit that we can contemplate is Jesus describing the Spirit as Comforter. The original Greek text illuminates this word Parakletos (παράκλητος), translated, “advocate, helper, intercessor, comforter”. Notice the two root words here: para, meaning “beside, next to, near”, and kaleo, the verb “to call, summon, invite”. Thus, a more literal rendition of parakletos would be “summoned to one’s side”.

Imagine your best friend, the one you have on speed dial for emergencies, the friend you would call if you got laid off, when you have your first miscarriage, or when your dad is diagnosed with cancer. Someone who comes when called to be of help. In ancient Greek, this word was a legal term for what today we would call a defense attorney. 

John’s Gospel mentions the “Parakletos” four times. Notice in bold how specific the Holy Spirit’s presence is:

  • John 14:16 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
  • John 14:26 “The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in my name—he will teach you everything and remind you of all that [I] told you.
  • John 15:26 “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me.
  • John 16:7 “But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.”

We hear that this Advocate will teach us everything, remind us of Jesus’ words, and testify to the Son. And most important of all: He will be with us always. Always. This is why Jesus himself allows the Spirit to drive Him into the desert (cfr Mk 1:12): Jesus knows that He will not be abandoned, but that the Comforter will be with Him in times of temptation, not despite it. Being full of the Spirit does not mean He erases temptation: rather, He strengthens us to resist it.

Pause to reflect: What would my life look like if I remembered that I always had an Advocate?

A third dimension of Jesus’ relationship to the Holy Spirit we can lean into is His joy in the Holy Spirit. Notice how Jesus reacts when the 72 disciples return after being sent out to preach, heal, and cast out demons:

“At that very moment He [Jesus] rejoiced in the holy Spirit and said, ‘I give you praise, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although You have hidden these things from the wise and the learned, You have revealed them to the childlike. Yes, Father, such has been Your gracious will.’” (Luke 20:21)

Two notable characteristics of Luke’s Gospel are his emphasis on joy (see chapters 2, 6, 10, 24) as well as his frequent mentions of the Holy Spirit (Luke 3, 4, 11, 12). Luke chapter 20 is a beautiful intertwining of these themes, and the evangelist is very intentional in describing Jesus’ joy in the Holy Spirit. It’s not just an abstract category, it’s an action: He rejoices. He rejoices in the Holy Spirit. And He praises His Father; He thanks Him. And for what does Jesus praise the Father, specifically? That He has revealed these things to the childlike.

We know how Jesus loves the little ones: “Let the children come to me and do not prevent them; for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these” (Lk 18:16). Not only is Jesus’ heart so free that He can rejoice in the Holy Spirit, but He wants this childlike freedom for you and for me.

Pause to reflect: How would my life be different if I allowed my heart to be joyfully childlike in the Holy Spirit?

Suggested concrete resolution:

  1. Use this month to pray with the various Scripture passages quoted in this meditation. Choose 1-2 verses per day, and choose to commit your favorite verses to memory.
  2. Ask Jesus to reveal the desires of your heart, and specifically to show you where you are most hungry. Do you long for the Spirit’s power? Are you hungry for an Advocate? Do you ache for the joy of childlikeness? Lean into one of these qualities intentionally this month with this prayer: “Jesus, live the power/help/joy of the Holy Spirit in me.”

 

This month’s meditation is by Sr. Ruth, AVI.

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