June 24, 2017, 3:09 am
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The promise of an advocate

JESUS said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.

“I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you.

“Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”

***

We are now in the sixth Sunday of Easter. Next Sunday we will commemorate the Ascension of the Lord, and after that, the descent of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. Our readings today prepare us for these two great feasts.

Our Gospel is part of Jesus’ farewell address to his disciples at the last supper. At that time he already knew that he was going to be handed over to his enemies, tried, and executed. So his parting words to his disciples, though heartbreaking, were really meant to encourage them to keep faith in him and hold on to his teachings even when he would no longer be with them. “If you love me,” he said to them, “you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15) for “whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me… whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him” (Jn 14:21).

Jesus reassures his disciples that he will not leave them orphans (Jn 14:18). He tells them: “In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live” (Jn 14:19). Jesus alludes here to his death and resurrection as well as his Easter appearances to his disciples. “On that day,” he said, “you will realize that I am in my Father and you are in me and I in you” (Jn 14:20). He promises his disciples not only of his presence, but also the presence of God the Father in their midst.

Moreover, Jesus makes a pledge to his disciples that they will not be abandoned, for he will ask his Father and he will give them another Advocate, the Spirit of Truth (Jn 14:16-17). The Greek word for Advocate is paraklētos, which means literally “someone called to be at (our) side,” to comfort and uplift us, support and defend us, counsel and teach us, intercede for us. The Holy Spirit is Helper, Consoler, and Teacher! Jesus explains: “[The Spirit] will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you” (Jn 14:26). Although the Spirit cannot be seen, his disciples will recognize him for he remains with them and in them (Jn 14:17).

The Risen Lord gave the Spirit to his disciples after he commissioned them: “As the Father has sent me, so I send you” (Jn 20:21). The Spirit emboldens them to preach the Good News. When the apostles in Jerusalem heard that the Samaritans had come to believe in Jesus Christ, they sent Peter and John up north so that by their prayers and laying on of hands they might impart the Holy Spirit to the Samaritans (Acts 8:14-17). We too received the Spirit when we were baptized and his presence in our hearts was further strengthened when we were confirmed.

We look forward then to the celebration of the Ascension and the Pentecost with much faith and confidence, knowing that God—Father, Son, and Spirit—continues to abide in us today, reminding us of the teachings of Jesus, guiding us on the path of righteousness, and energizing us to preach the Good News to others.

***

– Fr. Felipe Fruto Ll. Ramirez, SJ
– (May 21, 2017)
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