sexta-feira, 29 de janeiro de 2016


…when you take away your breath,
they die and go back to the dust
from which they came.
But when you give them breath,
they are created;
you give new life to the earth.
Psalm 104:29b-30 (read 104:24-34) - GNB

Our first act at birth is to fill our lungs with air. Our last act as we die is to sigh and empty our lungs. This led antiquity to believe that life was in the breath. Only the living breathe. The life of animals, including humans was in the breath. In Genesis 2.7 God breathed into the nose of a clay doll and it became Adam (which means “from the clay”). In this Psalm, animals are born when God gives them the breath of life. The breath was also seen as spirit. The word, "ruwach" or "Ruah" in Hebrew, means both breath and spirit. The spirit of God was his breath. Similarly, the Greeks used the word "pneuma" to mean either wind or spirit. In the New Testament the Holy Wind is the Holy Spirit.

For the biblical writers, life comes from the mouth of God through the spoken word or just a blow of the breath. "God said... and it was so" (Gen. 1.6-7, 9,14-15,20-21,24,26-30). Adam (Gen. 2.7) and animals (Ps. 104.30) were created with the divine breath.

In John 20:22, the resurrected Jesus sent the Holy Spirit to the disciples by speech and a puff of his breath. The book of Acts describes the day of Pentecost uses the imagery of wind and tongues of fire to describe the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the disciples. On both occasions, the breath and the wind represented new life, the resurrection of hope! In the Bible, the breath and the word produce life where it was absent before.

Our world is losing its "breath"! Premature death is becoming increasingly common with the increasing violence in our cities and with mass killings on an international scale, often in the name of God, Allah, Yahweh, justice and democracy, etc.. Crazed humanity is destroying life through the unbridled exploitation of natural resources and the poisoning of water and air with toxic waste and products.

But the worst loss is the loss of the "breath" of the spirit. The materialistic culture of the world of globalization leaves the human being without "spiritual breath". Globalization is based on trade: the manufacture and consumption of material goods. The ideal of happiness is financial wealth and social status. The middle and upper classes seek to fill the emptiness of the soul with drugs, alcohol and fads. Religions appeal to the exotic and spiritual fads in order to attract followers. All these phenomena are attempts to recover the spiritual breath. But these are like carbon monoxide. They fill the lungs but lead to death.

We are in dire need of the divine breath to revive our love for all our fellow beings and for all of creation. The whole Earth is in danger of suffocation and is eagerly awaiting the renewed breath of life.

O God, give us the breath of Your Spirit.


Lord, you have made so many things!
    How wisely you made them all!
    The earth is filled with your creatures.
There is the ocean, large and wide,
    where countless creatures live,
    large and small alike.
The ships sail on it, and in it plays Leviathan,
    that sea monster which you made.
All of them depend on you
    to give them food when they need it.
You give it to them, and they eat it;
    you provide food, and they are satisfied.
When you turn away, they are afraid;
    when you take away your breath, they die
    and go back to the dust from which they came.
But when you give them breath, they are created;
    you give new life to the earth.
May the glory of the Lord last forever!
    May the Lord be happy with what he has made!
He looks at the earth, and it trembles;
    he touches the mountains, and they pour out smoke.
I will sing to the Lord all my life;
    as long as I live I will sing praises to my God.
May he be pleased with my song,
    for my gladness comes from him.

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