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184

Part One

696

Fire.

While water signifies birth and the fruitfulness of life given

in the Holy Spirit, fire symbolizes the transforming energy of the Holy

Spirit’s actions. The prayer of the prophet Elijah, who “arose like fire” and

whose “word burned like a torch,” brought down fire from heaven on the

sacrifice on Mount Carmel.

37

This event was a “figure” of the fire of the

Holy Spirit, who transforms what he touches. John the Baptist, who goes

“before [the Lord] in the spirit and power of Elijah,” proclaims Christ as

the one who “will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and with fire.”

38

Jesus

will say of the Spirit: “I came to cast fire upon the earth; and would that it

were already kindled!”

39

In the form of tongues “as of fire,” the Holy Spirit

rests on the disciples on the morning of Pentecost and fills them with

himself.

40

The spiritual tradition has retained this symbolism of fire as one

of the most expressive images of the Holy Spirit’s actions.

41

“Do not

quench the Spirit.”

42

697

Cloud and light.

These two images occur together in the manifes-

tations of the Holy Spirit. In the theophanies of the Old Testament, the

cloud, now obscure, now luminous, reveals the living and saving God,

while veiling the transcendence of his glory—with Moses on Mount

Sinai,

43

at the tent of meeting,

44

and during the wandering in the desert,

45

and with Solomon at the dedication of the Temple.

46

In the Holy Spirit,

Christ fulfills these figures. The Spirit comes upon the Virgin Mary and

“overshadows” her, so that she might conceive and give birth to Jesus.

47

On the mountain of Transfiguration, the Spirit in the “cloud came and

overshadowed” Jesus, Moses and Elijah, Peter, James and John, and “a

voice came out of the cloud, saying, ‘This is my Son, my Chosen; listen to

him!’”

48

Finally, the cloud took Jesus out of the sight of the disciples on

the day of his ascension and will reveal him as Son of man in glory on the

day of his final coming.

49

37

Sir

48:1; cf.

1 Kings

18:38-39.

38

Lk

1:17; 3:16.

39

Lk

12:49.

40

Acts

2:3-4.

41 Cf. St. John of the Cross,

The Living Flame of Love,

in

The Collected Works of

St. John of the Cross,

tr. K. Kavanaugh, OCD, and O. Rodriguez, OCD

(Washington DC: Institute of Carmelite Studies, 1979), 577 ff.

42

1 Thess

5:19.

43 Cf.

Ex

24:15-18.

44 Cf.

Ex

33:9-10.

45 Cf.

Ex

40:36-38;

1 Cor

10:1-2.

46 Cf.

1 Kings

8:10-12.

47

Lk

1:35.

48

Lk

9:34-35.

49 Cf.

Acts

1:9; cf.

Lk

21:27.

1127

2586

718

484

554

659