Today’s Catechism sections discuss the Holy Spirit in relation to John the Baptist, the Blessed Mother, and Christ. Supporting material comes from St. Ambrose.

IV. The Spirit of Christ in the Fullness of Time

John, precursor, prophet, and Baptist

717 "There was a man sent from God, whose name was John."89 John was "filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother's womb"90 by Christ himself, whom the Virgin Mary had just conceived by the Holy Spirit. Mary's visitation to Elizabeth thus became a visit from God to his people.91

718 John is "Elijah (who) must come."92 The fire of the Spirit dwells in him and makes him the forerunner of the coming Lord. In John, the precursor, the Holy Spirit completes the work of "[making] ready a people prepared for the Lord."93

719 John the Baptist is "more than a prophet."94 In him, the Holy Spirit concludes his speaking through the prophets. John completes the cycle of prophets begun by Elijah.95 He proclaims the imminence of the consolation of Israel; he is the "voice" of the Consoler who is coming.96 As the Spirit of truth will also do, John "came to bear witness to the light."97 In John's sight, the Spirit thus brings to completion the careful search of the prophets and fulfills the longing of the angels.98 "He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit. And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.... Behold, the Lamb of God."99

720 Finally, with John the Baptist, the Holy Spirit begins the restoration to man of "the divine likeness," prefiguring what he would achieve with and in Christ. John's baptism was for repentance; baptism in water and the Spirit will be a new birth.100

"Rejoice, you who are full of grace"

721 Mary, the all-holy ever-virgin Mother of God, is the masterwork of the mission of the Son and the Spirit in the fullness of time. For the first time in the plan of salvation and because his Spirit had prepared her, the Father found the dwelling place where his Son and his Spirit could dwell among men. In this sense the Church's Tradition has often read the most beautiful texts on wisdom in relation to Mary.101 Mary is acclaimed and represented in the liturgy as the "Seat of Wisdom."

In her, the "wonders of God" that the Spirit was to fulfill in Christ and the Church began to be manifested:

722 The Holy Spirit prepared Mary by his grace. It was fitting that the mother of him in whom "the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily"102 should herself be "full of grace." She was, by sheer grace, conceived without sin as the most humble of creatures, the most capable of welcoming the inexpressible gift of the Almighty. It was quite correct for the angel Gabriel to greet her as the "Daughter of Zion": "Rejoice."103 It is the thanksgiving of the whole People of God, and thus of the Church, which Mary in her canticle104 lifts up to the Father in the Holy Spirit while carrying within her the eternal Son.

723 In Mary, the Holy Spirit fulfills the plan of the Father's loving goodness. With and through the Holy Spirit, the Virgin conceives and gives birth to the Son of God. By the Holy Spirit's power and her faith, her virginity became uniquely fruitful.105

724 In Mary, the Holy Spirit manifests the Son of the Father, now become the Son of the Virgin. She is the burning bush of the definitive theophany. Filled with the Holy Spirit she makes the Word visible in the humility of his flesh. It is to the poor and the first representatives of the gentiles that she makes him known.106

725 Finally, through Mary, the Holy Spirit begins to bring men, the objects of God's merciful love,107 into communion with Christ. And the humble are always the first to accept him: shepherds, magi, Simeon and Anna, the bride and groom at Cana, and the first disciples.

726 At the end of this mission of the Spirit, Mary became the Woman, the new Eve ("mother of the living"), the mother of the "whole Christ."108 As such, she was present with the Twelve, who "with one accord devoted themselves to prayer,"109 at the dawn of the "end time" which the Spirit was to inaugurate on the morning of Pentecost with the manifestation of the Church.

Christ Jesus

727 The entire mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit, in the fullness of time, is contained in this: that the Son is the one anointed by the Father's Spirit since his Incarnation - Jesus is the Christ, the Messiah.
Everything in the second chapter of the Creed is to be read in this light. Christ's whole work is in fact a joint mission of the Son and the Holy Spirit. Here, we shall mention only what has to do with Jesus' promise of the Holy Spirit and the gift of him by the glorified Lord.

728 Jesus does not reveal the Holy Spirit fully, until he himself has been glorified through his Death and Resurrection. Nevertheless, little by little he alludes to him even in his teaching of the multitudes, as when he reveals that his own flesh will be food for the life of the world.110 He also alludes to the Spirit in speaking to Nicodemus,111 to the Samaritan woman,112 and to those who take part in the feast of Tabernacles.113 To his disciples he speaks openly of the Spirit in connection with prayer114 and with the witness they will have to bear.115

729 Only when the hour has arrived for his glorification does Jesus promise the coming of the Holy Spirit, since his Death and Resurrection will fulfill the promise made to the fathers.116 The Spirit of truth, the other Paraclete, will be given by the Father in answer to Jesus' prayer; he will be sent by the Father in Jesus' name; and Jesus will send him from the Father's side, since he comes from the Father. The Holy Spirit will come and we shall know him; he will be with us forever; he will remain with us. The Spirit will teach us everything, remind us of all that Christ said to us and bear witness to him. The Holy Spirit will lead us into all truth and will glorify Christ. He will prove the world wrong about sin, righteousness, and judgment.

730 At last Jesus' hour arrives:117 he commends his spirit into the Father's hands118 at the very moment when by his death he conquers death, so that, "raised from the dead by the glory of the Father,"119 he might immediately give the Holy Spirit by "breathing" on his disciples.120 From this hour onward, the mission of Christ and the Spirit becomes the mission of the Church: "As the Father has sent me, even so I send you."121

In Brief

744 In the fullness of time the Holy Spirit completes in Mary all the preparations for Christ's coming among the People of God. By the action of the Holy Spirit in her, the Father gives the world Emmanuel "God-with-us" (⇒ Mt 1:23).

745 The Son of God was consecrated as Christ (Messiah) by the anointing of the Holy Spirit at his Incarnation (cf ⇒ Ps 2:6-7).

746 By his Death and his Resurrection, Jesus is constituted in glory as Lord and Christ (cf ⇒ Acts 2:36). From his fullness, he poured out the Holy Spirit on the apostles and the Church.

St. Ambrose writes of the workings of the Holy Spirit in Mary in “On the Holy Spirit” (Book I).

84. But how great is that grace which makes even the lower nature of the lot of men equal to the gifts received by Angels, as the Lord Himself promised, saying: You shall be as the Angels in heaven. Nor is it difficult, for He Who made those Angels in the Spirit will by the same grace make men also equal to the Angels.

85. But of what creature can it be said that it fills all things, as is written of the Holy Spirit: I will pour My Spirit upon all flesh. (Joel 2:28) This cannot be said of an Angel. Lastly, Gabriel himself, when sent to Mary, said: Hail, full of grace, (Luke 1:28) plainly declaring the grace of the Spirit which was in her, because the Holy Spirit had come upon her, and she was about to have her womb full of grace with the heavenly Word.

86. For it is of the Lord to fill all things, Who says: I fill heaven and earth. (Jeremiah 23:24) If, then, it is the Lord Who fills heaven and earth, Who can judge the Holy Spirit to be without a share in the dominion and divine power, seeing that He has filled the world, and what is beyond the whole world, filled Jesus the Redeemer of the whole world? For it is written: But Jesus, full of the Holy Spirit, departed from Jordan. (Luke 4:1) Who, then, except one who possessed the same fullness could fill Him Who fills all things?

87. But lest they should object that this was said according to the flesh, though He alone from Whose flesh went forth virtue to heal all, was more than all; yet, as the Lord fills all things, so, too, we read of the Spirit: For the Spirit of the Lord filled the whole world. (Wisdom 1:7) And you find it said of all who had consorted with the Apostles that, filled with the Holy Spirit they spoke the word of God with boldness. (Acts 4:31) You see that the Spirit gives both fullness and boldness, Whose operation the archangel announces to Mary, saying: The Holy Spirit shall come on you. (Luke 1:35)

Footnotes

89 ⇒ Jn 1:6[ETML:C/].
90 ⇒ Lk 1:15, ⇒ 41.
91 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:68.
92 ⇒ Mt 17:10-13; cf. ⇒ Lk 1:78.
93 ⇒ Lk 1:17.
94 ⇒ Lk 7:26.
95 Cf. ⇒ Mt 11:13-14.
96 ⇒ Jn 1:23; cf. ⇒ Isa 40:1-3.
97 ⇒ Jn 1:7; cf. ⇒ Jn 15:26; ⇒ 5:35.
98 Cf. ⇒ 1 Pet 1:10-12.
99 ⇒ Jn 1:33-36.
100 Cf ⇒ Jn 3:5[ETML:C/].
101 Cf. ⇒ Prov 8:1- ⇒ 9:6; ⇒ Sir 24.
102 ⇒ Col 2:9.
103 Cf. ⇒ Zeph 3:14; ⇒ Zech 2:14.
104 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:46-55.
105 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:26-38; ⇒ Rom 4:18-21; ⇒ Gal 4:26-28.
106 Cf. ⇒ Lk 1:15-19; ⇒ Mt 2:11.
107 Cf. ⇒ Lk 2:14.
108 Cf. ⇒ Jn 19:25-27.
109 ⇒ Acts 1:14.
110 Cf. ⇒ Jn 6:27, ⇒ 51, ⇒ 62-63.
111 Cf. ⇒ Jn 3:5-8.
112 Cf. ⇒ Jn 4:10, ⇒ 14, ⇒ 23-24.
113 Cf. ⇒ Jn 7:37-39.
114 Cf. ⇒ Lk 11:13.
115 Cf. ⇒ Mt 10:19-20.
116 Cf. ⇒ Jn 14:16-17, ⇒ 26; ⇒ 15:26; ⇒ 16:7-15; ⇒ 17:26.
117 Cf. ⇒ Jn 13:1; ⇒ 17:1.
118 Cf. ⇒ Lk 23:46; ⇒ Jn 19:30.
119 ⇒ Rom 6:4.
120 Cf. ⇒ Jn 20:22.
121 ⇒ Jn 20:21; cf. ⇒ Mt 28:19; ⇒ Lk 24:47-48; ⇒ Acts 1:8.