Grace to you!
Yesterday, I introduced the theme of the Holy Spirit. Today’s reflection on the quality of the Holy Spirit as the “paraclete,” the gift of God the Son from the Father flows from yesterday’s reflection.
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, is full of meaning. It carries with it some crucial qualitites we have to know about the Holy Spirit and His work in the life of the believer and the church. Observe that I have always mentioned the Holy Spirit’s work in the Church as well as individual members of the Church. This is so because the Gift of the Holy Spirit is for us as Church and as inviduals 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, who are weak and imperfect, which 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” so as to supply the need or advocate our cause. He 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 us and in the Church the same intercessory role of Christ the Lord; becoming our voice in prayer, sort of our offering, needs and sacrifices back to God the Father. 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 on our behalf in the best possible way. 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 we 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
Father Maurice Emelu PhD., 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.