Today’s Catechism sections discuss the workings of the Holy Spirit in the Kingdom, Exile, and prophecy of our Lord. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose’s “On the Holy Spirit”.

In the Kingdom and the Exile

709 The Law, the sign of God's promise and covenant, ought to have governed the hearts and institutions of that people to whom Abraham's faith gave birth. "If you will obey my voice and keep my covenant, . . . you shall be to me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation."75 But after David, Israel gave in to the temptation of becoming a kingdom like other nations. The Kingdom, however, the object of the promise made to David,76 would be the work of the Holy Spirit; it would belong to the poor according to the Spirit.

710 The forgetting of the Law and the infidelity to the covenant end in death: it is the Exile, apparently the failure of the promises, which is in fact the mysterious fidelity of the Savior God and the beginning of a promised restoration, but according to the Spirit. The People of God had to suffer this purification.77 In God's plan, the Exile already stands in the shadow of the Cross, and the Remnant of the poor that returns from the Exile is one of the most transparent prefigurations of the Church.

Expectation of the Messiah and his Spirit

711 "Behold, I am doing a new thing."78 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."79

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.

712 The characteristics of the awaited Messiah begin to appear in the "Book of Emmanuel" ("Isaiah said this when he saw his glory,"80 speaking of Christ), especially in the first two verses of Isaiah 11: 81

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.

713 The Messiah's characteristics are revealed above all in the "Servant songs."82 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."83 Taking our death upon himself, he can communicate to us his own Spirit of life.

714 This is why Christ inaugurates the proclamation of the Good News by making his own the following passage from Isaiah:84

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.

715 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."85 St. Peter will proclaim their fulfillment on the morning of Pentecost.86 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.

716 The People of the "poor"87 - 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."88

St. Ambrose comments on the role of the Holy Spirit in the sending of the prophets in his “On the Holy Spirit” (Book III):

1. In the former book we have shown by the clear evidence of the Scriptures that the apostles and prophets were appointed, the latter to prophesy, the former to preach the Gospel, by the Holy Spirit in the same way as by the Father and the Son; now we add what all will rightly wonder at, and not be able to doubt, that the Spirit was upon Christ; and that as He sent the Spirit, so the Spirit sent the Son of God. For the Son of God says: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me, because He has anointed Me, He has sent Me to preach the Gospel to the poor, to proclaim liberty to the captives, and sight to the blind. And having read this from the Book of Isaiah, He says in the Gospel: Today has this Scripture been fulfilled in your ears; (Luke 4:21) that He might point out that it was said of Himself.

2. Can we, then, wonder if the Spirit sent both the prophets and the apostles, since Christ said: The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me? And rightly did He say upon Me, because He was speaking as the Son of Man. For as the Son of Man He was anointed and sent to preach the Gospel.

3. But if they believe not the Son, let them hear the Father also saying that the Spirit of the Lord is upon Christ. For He says to John: Upon whomsoever you shall see the Spirit descending from heaven and abiding upon Him, He it is Who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. (John 1:33) God the Father said this to John, and John heard and saw and believed. He heard from God, he saw in the Lord, he believed that it was the Spirit Who was coming down from heaven. For it was not a dove that descended, but the Holy Spirit as a dove; for thus it is written: I saw the Spirit descending from heaven as a dove. (John 1:32)

4. As John says that he saw, so, too, wrote Mark; Luke, however, added that the Holy Spirit descended in a bodily form as a dove; you must not think that this was an incarnation, but an appearance. He, then, brought the appearance before him, that by means of the appearance he might believe who did not see the Spirit, and that by the appearance He might manifest that He had a share of the one honour in authority, the one operation in the mystery, the one gift in the bath, together with the Father and the Son; unless perchance we consider Him in Whom the Lord was baptized too weak for the servant to be baptized in Him.

5. And he said fittingly, abiding upon Him, (John 1:33) because the Spirit inspired a saying or acted upon the prophets as often as He would, but abode always in Christ.


75 ⇒ Ex 19:5-6; Cf. ⇒ 1 Pet 2:9.
76 Cf. ⇒ 2 Sam 7; ⇒ Ps 89; ⇒ Lk 1:32-33.
77 Cf. ⇒ Lk 24:26.
78 ⇒ Isa 43:19.
79 Cf. ⇒ Zeph 2:3; ⇒ Lk 2:25, ⇒ 38.
80 ⇒ Jn 12:41; cf. ⇒ Isa 6-12.
81 ⇒ Isa 11:1-2.
82 Cf. ⇒ Isa 42:1-9; cf. ⇒ Mt 12:18-21; ⇒ Jn 1:32-34; then cf. ⇒ Isa 49:1-6; cf. ⇒ Mt 3:17; ⇒ Lk 2:32; finally cf. ⇒ Isa 50:4-10 and ⇒ Isa 52:13-53:12.
83 ⇒ Phil 2:7.
84 ⇒ Isa 61:1-2; cf. ⇒ Lk 4:18-19.
85 Cf. ⇒ Ezek 11:19; ⇒ 36:25-28; ⇒ 37:1-14; ⇒ Jer 31:31-34; and cf. ⇒ Joel 3:1-5.
86 Cf. ⇒ Acts 2:17-21.
87 Cf. ⇒ Zeph 2:3; ⇒ Pss 22:27; ⇒ 34:3; ⇒ Isa 49:13; ⇒ 61:1; etc.
88 ⇒ Lk 1:17.