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Spirit-possessed

Scripture tells us that we have been created in God’s image and  likeness. What an uplifting statement! But what does it mean? For one, it means that we think, love and will as God does. However, that understanding describes only the similar functional capabilities we share with our Creator. Our divine likeness goes much deeper.

Christ revealed to us that God is a Trinity of Persons, the Father loving the Son, the Son imaging the Father, and the Spirit proceeding from this love relationship. Do we share this essential likeness to God? We do. The Spirit is integrated at the core of our beings. St. Paul describes this human-divine condition as the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. We truly are created in God’s image and likeness─at the level of our essence.

Further, we can say that God programmed us for the fullness of human life through our union with His Spirit. Before the Fall, our happiness would have been to be fully aware of God’s Spirit inspiring our lives, and we willfully and joyfully living our lives in accordance with the Spirit’s promptings. That was to be our glory as human persons

What the story of Original Sin tells us is that our first parents rejected God’s plan for the human race. They rejected dependency on God’s Spirit. They wanted self-depend-ency, self-determination. In place of a life of God-centeredness, they chose a life of self-centeredness. The result? This rejection of God’s plan alienated the human race from God’s relationship, and alienated us from ourselves, others, life and creation.

However, despite the fact that God’s plan for the human race had been rejected, the plan still stands. But given our woundedness, it is more difficult to live. We are not our own. The Spirit still possesses us. We are still created with an inner movement toward God, and yet we cannot make a move toward God without the Spirit’s empowerment.

If through Original Sin we rejected the Spirit’s possession of us, growth in the spiritual life entails progressive surrender to the Spirit’s possession of us. Thus, the spiritual life is essentially not about adding something outside ourselves like religious practices or rituals but about unleashing the Spirit usually locked up within ourselves.

One of the consequences of this human-divine condition is that prayer is not primarily something that we do as it is something that God does in us: “We who have the first fruits of the Spirit…do not know how to pray as we ought, but the very Spirit intercedes with sighs too deep for words.” Romans 8:23-26. Even our desire for growth in relationship with God is not primarily the human act of yearning, but a Spirit-inspired assent to the very way in which we were created. We are in the Spirit’s possession!

The same is true of spiritual formation. We are so complex as human beings that we do not know what spiritual insights we need to grow in the spiritual life. We must acknowledge that some of our old beliefs about God and the spiritual life are no longer working, and ask the Spirit to open us to new understandings that could change everything, and the courage to embrace His promptings.

What about our efforts at evangelization? The Fundamental Ideas states: “The Spirit acts through all evangelizers who allow themselves to be possessed and led by Him; who puts on their lips the words which of themselves they would never be able to find; who explains to the faithful the deep meaning of the teachings of Jesus and of His mystery; and who predisposes the minds of hearers to be open and receptive to the Good News.” These hearers of our words are likewise possessed by the Spirit. Our task is to encourage them to free the Spirit within them

The prayer, “Come Holy Spirit” should be on our lips throughout our day as we live and grow in lives of Spirit-possession.