BITE-SIZE THEOLOGY (72) – If Jesus has redeemed us, why is there a need for the Holy Spirit?

– Rev José Mario O Mandía

Before He suffered and died, Jesus Christ made His apostles understand that after Him will come “another Advocate” (John 14:16). The story of God’s love for men was not yet finished. There was more to come. Way before He suffered, died and resurrected, Jesus had told His apostles that He will ask the Father to send the Holy Spirit in His (Jesus’) name (cf John 14:26). 

We may ask: if Jesus had already redeemed us, what work is left for the Holy Spirit to do? Why is there a need to send Him?

Let me use an analogy to explain. Man’s coming to form part of God’s family and achieving unending joy in heaven is like one big project. Indeed, it is the most ambitious project ever launched in the whole history of mankind and it consists in transforming sinners into saints. It is a project that human effort alone cannot ever dream of achieving. It is an undertaking that is only possible through the action of God in the soul of the person who freely allows God into his life. In this project, each of the Persons of the Blessed Trinity has a role to play.

Every project requires a plan. The Father, who has “arranged all things by measure and number and weight” (Wisdom 11:20) is the one who has drafted that plan.

Every project also requires financing. Jesus Christ paid for most of the cost with His own life, though the Father’s plan calls for our little contribution: “in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church” (Colossians 1:24). I always say that Jesus made the down payment and has covered 99% of the cost of our heavenly home. We only have to contribute a measly 1% to complete it. 

Moreover, every project requires a model on which to pattern the outcome. Jesus Christ also plays this role – He is the living model of how a true child of God, a saint, ought to be. Do we want to be holy? Then we should meditate on the life of Christ and imitate Him. That is why Jesus tells us, “learn from me” (Matthew 11:29).

Every project requires a contractor to execute it. This is where the Holy Spirit comes in. He acts in our soul to mold, to shape, to form us according to the image of the crucified Christ. “For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God” (Romans 8:14). This is why we need the Holy Spirit. He is the one who finishes the job.

How does the Holy Spirit form a person? 

We know that God made man according to His image, giving him a spiritual soul that can know (through the intellect) and love (with the will). The Holy Spirit acts on the soul and on both faculties: He gives life to the soul, light to the intellect and strength to the will.

Life for the soul. In the Creed, we profess the Holy Spirit as “Lord and Giver of life.” When God created man, He “breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being” (Genesis 2:7). Likewise, in the supernatural order, God gives us supernatural life – sanctifying grace – through the breath of the Spirit. But aside from this created grace, the Holy Spirit Himself – uncreated Grace – dwells in the souls of those in sanctifying grace.

Light for the intellect. Jesus promised His apostles that “the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you” (John 14:26).

Strength for the will. Jesus promised as well to His apostles that they “shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria and to the end of the earth” (Acts 1:8).