Grace to you and Happy Easter!
Goodbyes are not the sweetest things in life. Consider the farewell to your child going off to college or your spouse heading to the battlefront. If we had the power, we would love to be with them right where they are, making sure everything is all right.
The moment of goodbye came to the Lord's disciples. It was the final goodbye. They will not see the Lord Jesus face to face, in his physical body, any longer. Neither would they touch him nor smell his divine aroma. He was going back to the Father.
Yet, he will not leave them alone, without the support they needed. What a loving Savior!
In the events described in John 14:15-21, the Lord did not wish believers a goodbye without a substitute. Instead, he was promising and gifting them (and us) "another presence" like himself.
The apostles and disciples had seen and known Jesus Christ as the “paraclete” and the counselor. 1 John 2:1 describes Jesus Christ as Paraclete(Advocate): “We have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ, the righteous.” The Letter to the Hebrews reaffirms the same truth that Jesus is the Advocate and Mediator for us with the Father (see Heb 7:25).
In truth, Jesus Christ is our Advocate and Mediator. But he was physically leaving the apostles, and they were sad and discouraged. Just as we are sad, discouraged when Christ seems distant from us. Those moments, our worries seem to consume our thoughts and emotions. Who will defend us before the world that is opposed to our belief and lifestyle? Who will console us? Who will speak on our behalf amidst our powerful adversaries? Who will intervene, so our needs are met? Who will accompany us during our moments of sorrows, distress, depression, and anxiety? Who will show us the way? Who will be our companion in moments of loneliness? Who?
Then comes the promise plus the grace from the Lord Jesus Christ himself: "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor [Paraclete], to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you” (Jn 14:15-18).
If you love me, the Blessed Lord tells us, keep my commandment. Isn't the most real love experienced when we allow the person we love to influence our decisions? To love someone completely makes one believe without doubt in the person. Such love is rarely found with us humans. Such love is possible by the grace of love poured in our hearts. "God's love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us” (Rm 5:5).
We see now how this first line (Jn 14:15) of the Lord's promise is connected with the second and subsequent ones. "And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever…"
Please pay attention to the words of Our Savior here. He is not sending us a Paraclete or Advocate not related to himself or not like himself. Instead, he is sending us, asking the Father on our behalf, to send us another Advocate/Counselor.
The Lord Jesus is the first Advocate, Counselor of the believer. The Holy Spirit is another Advocate. The same grace flowing from Jesus flows from the "another Counselor," the Holy Spirit since both of them with the Father are(is) one God. So, though Jesus has left the Church (us) physically, he is still fully with us in a unique way through the Holy Spirit.
It means, for the Church today—and this applies to the members of the Church too—, God continues to be with us in an intimate way as Jesus came to show us the way to the Trinity. Sound evidence of this presence is the sensus fidei/sensus fidelium, that is, the faithful's sense of faith, in which the Spirit speaks in the faithful through the ages. The Church teaches this truth. Others are the sacraments and the Word through which God's life is poured and animated in us by the Spirit. God abides with us, not in the physical form when the Lord Jesus walked the earth, but through another way, another abiding presence, the Holy Spirit. "I am with you always, to the close of the age" (Mt 28:20).
There are tons of examples of the fruits of this abiding divine presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit. The fruitfulness of Philip's ministry and the coming of the same Holy Spirit upon the Samarians in Acts 8 at the behest of Peter and John are good examples. So are other examples in Scripture and the daily life of the Church today. Fruits of evangelization, in which lives are transformed and renewed, are evidence too. God does wonders among the faithful.
The Church carries in no less way the same experiences of the eyewitnesses of Jesus over two thousand years ago. We are his body. We are his hands. Christ still speaks today. He heals. He counsels. He breaks the shackles of unfreedom. He is still alive through the abiding self of the Holy Spirit, another Advocate in his body, the Church.
Tomorrow, I continue this reflection on the qualities of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete. Subsequently, I will hint on why the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth. There will be other truths concerning the Holy Spirit I will reflect upon as we prepare for the novena (nine-day-prayers) to the Holy Spirit. The novena begins on the evening of Ascension Thursday. Stay connected!
May the Holy Spirit renew us. Amen.
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Sixth Sunday of Easter A: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Pet 3:15-18; Jn 14:15-21]
Author and Goal
Father Maurice Emelu Ph.D., provides a daily blog of reflections based on the Scriptural readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. The goal is to teach, inspire, encourage, and foster healing through the grace of God's word. They are written in a language that is appropriate for a general audience. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration, and developing your thoughts. They may also be useful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.