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Divine Matchmaker

In the musical, Fiddler on the Roof, there is a character who plays the role of matchmaker. The young men and women in a small Russian town look to her to find marriage partners. Likewise, we can view the Spirit as the Divine Matchmaker who unites us with God the Father and with Jesus and with one another.

In John Haughton, SJ’s Conspiracy of God, the author asks the question: If the Spirit was so important in Jesus’ life, how do we explain the relative silence of the Spirit in the Gospels? He answers: “…the Spirit acts not to point to himself, but to the Other. In the case of Jesus, the Other was the Father…The Spirit inspires in Jesus a desire for union with his Father in his prayer, in his works, in his will…. With us, the Other the Spirit points to is Jesus and through him to the Father.” The Spirit is the Divine Matchmaker!

Come Holy Spirit. We find that same relative silence of the Spirit even in the prayer dedicated to the Spirit, “Come Holy Spirit.” Only one sentence addresses the Spirit directly. Immediately, the Risen Christ (implied) is called upon to “send forth Your Spirit” and in the concluding section God is asked to grant us the Spirit’s gifts.

Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of us Your faithful

and kindle in us the fire of Your love.

(Risen Christ), send forth Your Spirit and we shall be created,

and You shall renew the face of the earth.

O God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit instructs the hearts of the faithful,

grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever rejoice

in His consolations. Through Christ our Lord. Amen.

This prayer sums up the Spirit’s role as Divine Matchmaker. Note: when we pray:  “kindle in us the fire of Your love”, that love is the mutual love of Father and Son. For the Spirit is the expression of Trinitarian love and is therefore the Divine Matchmaker within the Trinity. So, our prayer asks the Spirit to be Divine Matchmaker for us with Jesus and Abba, our Father. Further, we pray that with the Spirit we will reach out to others in love and “renew the face of the earth.” The Spirit is the unifying force within the Trinity, between us and the Trinity, and between us and the whole Body of Christ.

Necessary Dependence. We need the Spirit of love to well up within us to live the spiritual life. By ourselves, we cannot love deeply. Love is a divine virtue. God has gifted us with partnership with His Spirit to live lives of love. Consequently, we need to pray before we pray or before we enter into any spiritual activity, such as celebrating Mass. Or even before we reach out to others in love and compassion. We need to pray that the Spirit will stir up our desire and inflame us with divine love to empower us to love Jesus and be compassionate to others. We have to plug into the Spirit as the divine power source of desire and love as Jesus did. The Spirit is the Divine Matchmaker!

Dependency Transcended. However, there is a dialectic here, the presence of two opposing concepts with a surprising resolution. As Jesus grew in dependency on the Spirit, he grew in awareness of himself as the Chosen One of God, and as truly gift for others. When people encountered Jesus, they knew they encountered the Compassionate One. He gifted them with his presence and affirmed their giftedness. Likewise, we too can experience this same dialectic—the awareness of our own powerlessness and the empowerment by the Spirit of love. As we grow in our dependency on the Spirit, we too can grow in awareness of ourselves as chosen ones of God, who are being empowered to experience ourselves as gift and who can affirm the giftedness of others.

Divine Plan. In the article, The Jesus Process, we saw the historical Jesus as the starting point in the Purgative, Illuminative and Unitive processes we experience in the spiritual life, with the Risen Christ making Jesus’ lived experiences present here and now, and gifting us with his Spirit. But the process does not end with the Spirit. Not only is Jesus the starting point, he must also be the ending point. And that must include the whole Body of Christ. For the deeper we plunge into a life with the Spirit, the more profoundly do we enter into our inner self, and the more wholeheartedly do we reach out to others. The Spirit is always the Divine Matchmaker! That’s the Divine Plan!