Grace to you!
Goodbyes are not the sweetest things in life. Consider the goodbye to our kid going off to college or our child heading to the battlefront. If we had the power, we would love to be with them right where they are, making sure everything is ok.
The moment of goodbye came for the disciples of Jesus. It was the final goodbye—they will not see Jesus face to face in his physical body again; 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, Jesus was not wishing 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, and 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 since we are not as connected as our 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?
Then come the promise and the grace from 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 for ever, 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, Jesus says, keep my commandment. Isn’t the truest love experienced when we allow the one we love to influence our decisions? To love someone in a complete, should I say perfect, way is to 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 Jesus’ 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 for ever…”
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. Rather he is sending us, asking the Father on our behalf, to send us another Advocate/Counselor.
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 is one God. So, though Jesus has left the Church (us) in a physical way, he is still completely with us in a unique way through the Holy Spirit.
Which means, for the Church today—and this applies to the members of the Church too, recall sensus fidei/sensus fidelium (sense of faith of the faithful)—God is continuously with us as Jesus came to show us the way to the Trinity. 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).
The fruitfulness of Philip’s ministry and the coming of the same Holy Sprit upon the Samarians in Acts 8 at the behest of Peter and John, were examples of how the presence of Jesus and the Holy Spirit will continue to abide with the Church.
Which means 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 Sprit, another Advocate in his body, the Church.
Tomorrow, we continue our reflection on the qualities of the Holy Spirit as the Paraclete, why the Holy Spirit is called the Spirit of Truth, and much more, as we prepare for the novena (nine-day-prayers) to the Holy Spirit beginning on Thursday evening. Stay connected!
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]
Father Maurice provides a daily blog of reflections based on the bible readings of the day from the Catholic liturgical calendar. You will find these reflections helpful for your spiritual growth, inspiration and developing your own thoughts. It may also be helpful for ministers in preparing their sermons for liturgical celebrations.