We are still in the blessed period following the Descent of the Holy Spirit, after the sending of the Spirit into the world to complete the saving work of the Resurrected and Ascended Christ. On the day of Pentecost the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and made them the Body of Christ, His Bride. The Church is a new reality that unites heaven and earth, God and man. And this new reality is born through a new power, the power of God's infinite love, which came to raise man out of his infirmities and grant him eternity, triumphing over "death by death." The Church was born on Pentecost as a reality filled with a power from heaven borne within itself and communicated to the world.
St. Paul tells us that the first fruit of the Spirit is love. Then he adds other fruit that flow from the outpouring of the Spirit upon every Christian: joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control (Gal. 5:22-23). Among these we find goodness mentioned after love, but before faithfulness. It seems that St. Paul wants to tell us through this listing that the presence of the Spirit in our lives has visible signs for those around us; and these are virtues that our brethren can experience directly: love, joy, peace, forbearance, kindness, goodness. In the life of a spiritual person, one who is filled with the working of the Holy Spirit, we can see all these qualities that have to do with our relationship with our neighbor, beginning with love – a reflection of God's love for each and every one of us – and culminating in goodness, the evidence of love bearing fruit in us.
Goodness – benevolence toward those who are suffering and in need of our help – is not therefore merely an act of human solidarity. It is the sign of the presence of the Spirit in our lives; it is proof that we are Christians who embody the work of the Spirit in the world. We offer to others not only material help, but actually the Spirit, which makes them also bearers of the fruit of the Spirit. This is the mystery of Christianity, handed down from the Apostles to us, from the upper room at Pentecost (Acts 1:13) to the Church of the 21st century, which continues to ask for and receive the Spirit.
+ Archbishop Nicolae
Archdiocese in the Americas
Episcopal Liaison for the IOCC from the Assembly of Canonical Orthodox Bishops of North and Central America