Expectation of the Messiah and His Spirit

hsp“Behold, I am doing a new thing.” Two prophetic lines were to develop, one leading to the expectation of the Messiah, the other pointing to the announcement of a new Spirit. They converge in the small Remnant, the people of the poor, who await in hope the “consolation of Israel” and “the redemption of Jerusalem.”

We have seen earlier how Jesus fulfills the prophecies concerning himself. We limit ourselves here to those in which the relationship of the Messiah and his Spirit appears more clearly.

The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the “Book of Emmanuel” (“Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,” speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11:

There shall come forth a shoot from the stump of Jesse,

and a branch shall grow out of his roots.

and the Spirit of the LORD shall rest upon him,

the spirit of wisdom and understanding,

the spirit of counsel and might,

the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the LORD.

The Messiah’s characteristics are revealed above all in the “Servant songs.” These songs proclaim the meaning of Jesus’ Passion and show how he will pour out the Holy Spirit to give life to the many: not as an outsider, but by embracing our “form as slave.” Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah:

The Spirit of the LORD God is upon me, because the LORD has anointed me to bring good tidings to the afflicted; he has sent me to bind up the broken hearted, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and the opening of the prison to those who are bound; to proclaim the year of the LORD’S favor.

The prophetic texts that directly concern the sending of the Holy Spirit are oracles by which God speaks to the heart of his people in the language of the promise, with the accents of “love and fidelity.” St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost. According to these promises, at the “end time” the Lord’s Spirit will renew the hearts of men, engraving a new law in them. He will gather and reconcile the scattered and divided peoples; he will transform the first creation, and God will dwell there with men in peace.

The People of the “poor” – those who, humble and meek, rely solely on their God’s mysterious plans, who await the justice, not of men but of the Messiah – are in the end the great achievement of the Holy Spirit’s hidden mission during the time of the promises that prepare for Christ’s coming. It is this quality of heart, purified and enlightened by the Spirit, which is expressed in the Psalms. In these poor, the Spirit is making ready “a people prepared for the Lord.”

From the Catechism of the Catholic Church 711-716

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