36 See O’Collins, Salvation For All, 142 60.

Here, to avoid misunderstanding, we should add at once: people do not have to be aware of living in the presence of Christ and the Holy Spirit for this to be the case. Being present does not, as such, imply being known to be present. Torrance’s helpful language about the Holy Spirit universalizing the priestly work of Christ implies a universal presence of the Spirit and Christ.37

37 On this universal presence of Christ and the Spirit, see further ibid. 207 29.

(4) To hold that the eternal High Priest incessantly acts as the primary, invisible minister in the preaching and sacramental life of the Church obviously makes more precise what is left more general in the New Testament. The Gospel of Matthew closes with the risen Christ’s command to evangelize and baptize all nations and with the promise, ‘I will be with you always’ (Matt. 28: 19–20). But Christ does not particularize matters by promising: ‘When you preach, I will be with you always as the invisible preacher; when you baptize, I will be with you always as the invisible minister.’ The longer ending to Mark pictures Christ being ‘taken into heaven and sitting down at the right hand of God’ after commissioning ‘the eleven’ to preach and baptize everywhere. They, then, ‘went out and proclaimed the good news everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that accompanied it’ (Mark 16: 19–20). Like Matthew, the author of this additional ending to Mark witnesses to the belief and experience of early Christians: the exalted Christ was not absent but dynamically present in their mission to preach and baptize. The Book of Acts, without expressly qualifying the activity as priestly, tells the story of Jesus being with those who preached the Gospel, working with them, and confirming what they did in his service through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Lucan scheme, the risen Jesus needs to be withdrawn from the visible scene before the Holy Spirit comes. But the ascension does not mean that Jesus has gone away, as if he were on a very long sabbatical leave in another universe. He remains dynamically, if invisibly, present in and to the life of the Church. Here distinctions may seem to become a little blurred. Luke can move from cases of faithful guidance by the risen and ascended Lord (Acts 9: 10–16; 18: 9–10; 22: 17–21) to cases of guidance by the Holy Spirit (Acts 8: 29; 10: 19; 16: 6), without distinguishing clearly between them. He reports at least once guidance by ‘the Spirit of Jesus’ (Acts 16: 7), in parallelism with ‘the Holy Spirit’ (Acts 16: 6).