Father of the Poor

In the sequence for Pentecost, Veni, Sancte Spiritus – Come, Holy Spirit, there is a phrase that has intrigued me for years:

Veni, Pater pauperum
Come, Father of the poor.

The Holy Spirit is addressed as the Father of the Poor. Whatever could this mean?

The Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Jesus, the Spirit of Love, works through and with the poor.

José Comblin, the late Brazilian-Belgian theologian shared some ideas in an article on the Holy Spirit in Mysterium Liberationis: Fundamental Concepts of Liberation Theology. I need to study it, but here are a few quotes:

The Holy Spirit acts in the world by means of the poor. This principle has been unambiguously established by Paul (1 Corinthians 1:26-2:16)….

…the Spirit acts on the underside of history. It does not reject the mediation of concrete, historical forces –neither scientific and technological development, nor economic development, nor political power, nore even in exreme cases, military mediations. But it subordiantes them all to the power of the poor. The Spirit acts by means of patience, perseverance, protest, petition…

For me the Spirit is like a breath – a wind – a force that can not be seen but which moves us to life and to love. And thus the Spirit of God is the Father of the Poor, the lover and protector of the most vulnerable, the force that moves among them, showing forth the power of God in weakness.

I see this especially in the resilience of the poor, their perseverance in the face of poverty and oppression, and in the ways they use to live – not with lots of technology but with lots of simple creativity.

The Holy Spirit is Father of the Poor in another way.

So often we are paralyzed by fear – as were the followers of Jesus on Easter Sunday and on first Pentecost, hiding behind closed doors. Jesus came on Easter and the Spirit came on Pentecost to drive out fear.

In his commentary on the Sunday readings, Sharing the Word through the Liturgical Year,  Gustavo Gutiérrez wrote:

The presence of the Spirit in the church, in each one of us, must lead us to defend the dignity of God’s children whose rights to life and truth are being violated. Becoming paralyzed with fear of the powerful or of losing our comfort and privileges in society means that we refuse to receive the Spirit of love.

And so Father of the Poor, come, cast out fear, cast out poverty, use the poor of the earth to transform all of us.

Come, Holy Spirit.


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