Grace to you, and Happy Easter!
Previously, I introduced the theme of the Holy Spirit. Today's reflection on the Holy Spirit's attribute as the "paraclete," the gift of God the Son from the Father, flows from yesterday's line of thought.
In continuation of the farewell address to his disciples and the promise about another advocate, the Lord Jesus said: “But when the Counselor (παράκλητος) comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning (Jn 15:26-27).”
The Greek word παράκλητος (parakletos), sometimes anglicized as Paraclete, has rich meaning. It carries with it some crucial qualities we have to know about the Holy Spirit and His work in the believer and the Church's life. Observe that I have always mentioned the Holy Spirit's work in the Church as well as individual members of the Church. It is because the Gift of the Holy Spirit is for us as Church and as individuals in the Church.
During his Opening Address at the third session of Vatican II, 14 September 1964, Pope Paul VI insisted we pay attention to these two areas of the Spirit's work. “The Holy Spirit acts internally within each person, as well as on the whole community [church], animating, vivifying, sanctifying.”
From the commentary of a 17th century Flemish Jesuit Bible scholar, Cornelius à Lapide, on the Gospel of John, we have a systematized classification of the meaning of parakletos. According to him, they include 1) an Advocate, an Intercessor, 2) an Exhorter, an Inciter, and 3) a Comforter.
Consider many times in our life we need someone to be called in to help our "helpless" or challenging situation. Or we simply need a helping hand. There are many things about us—weak and imperfect as we are—that make us get on our knees or crawl into our bed, not wanting to leave our rooms. We feel deeply in need. Moments like those, and much more in the spiritual life, are when Jesus the Lord calls in the Person of the Divine Spirit, the Holy Spirit, to help our needy situation.
Paraclete, as you may have known, literally means "someone called in." The person is called in to supply the need or be an advocate to our cause. The Spirit comes in to refresh, revitalize, and renew our depressing Spirit.
The Holy Spirit supplies the need of the Church and the believer at least through three distinct ways. First is through being our holy and loving advocate. He carries on in the Church and us the same intercessory role of Christ the Lord. The Spirit becomes our voice in prayer, sort of offering our needs, and sacrifices in His voice to God the Father and the Son. Our Public prayer (Sacred Liturgy) is alive and effective because of the Holy Spirit.
Romans 8:26 reassures us of this intercessory role of the Holy Spirit. "Likewise, the Spirit helps us in our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words.” God understands that conversation because it’s of His Spirit.
Know that in our prayers, even those imperfect conversations with God, if we allow the Holy Spirit, He, as our advocate, will plead our cause before God. He will speak perfectly on our behalf. He does so because He is our advocate, the promise by Christ the Incarnate Advocate to us as believers.
So, when the Church prays during the Liturgy or when individuals pray (private or public prayer), those prayers resound in the throne of Divine Love, echoing the power and voice of the Spirit of God within us. Our private prayers are as good as our openness to the anointing of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
Tomorrow I continue on the function of the Holy Spirit as an Exhorter, the Counselor.
Praying that we be open to the Holy Spirit as He intercedes on our behalf. Amen
God love you. God bless you.
Fr. Maurice Emelu
[Monday Week 6: Acts 16:11-15; Jn 15:26-16:4A]
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.