THEME: THE PROMISED PARACLETE
READINGS: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17/ 1 Peter 3:15-18/ John 14: 15-21
6th Sunday of Easter
Today’s gospel reading is part of the message which our Lord Jesus Christ gave to His disciples at the Last Supper. In this message, Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit: ‘I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Paraclete to be with you forever, [namely] the Spirit of truth’ (John 14:16-17; cf. John 14:26). Six weeks thereafter, on the day of His ascension into Heaven, Jesus reassured His disciples: ‘you shall receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you’ (Acts 1:8). Then, ten days later, on the day of Pentecost, the Holy Spirit descended in a spectacular way to empower the disciples of Jesus Christ.
As cited above, Jesus referred to the Holy Spirit as ‘another Paraclete’. What then is the meaning of the word, ‘Paraclete’? The word ‘Paraclete’ is a transliteration of the Greek word, ‘parakletos’ which has several meanings. It was used to refer to one’s advocate/lawyer, comforter or counsellor.
Jesus Himself was the first Paraclete of His disciples. That is, He was their advocate, comforter and counsellor. In His physical absence, then, the Holy Spirit would be our advocate, comforter and counsellor. Hence, Jesus called the Holy Spirit ‘another Paraclete’ (John 14:16).
ADVOCATE: As their advocate, Jesus defended His disciples whenever the Pharisees accused them. Similarly, as our advocate, the Holy Spirit is on our side and speaks on our behalf. Thus, St. Paul writes: ‘the Spirit helps us in our weaknesses. For we do not know what we should pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself makes intercession for us with groaning which cannot be uttered’ (Rom. 8:27). Secondly as our advocate, the Holy Spirit protects us from evil spirits. The safety of our souls is absolutely assured in the Holy Spirit, because no spirit can withstand the Spirit of God!
COMFORTER: As a lawyer would do for a discouraged client (accused of a serious crime), so Jesus often encouraged or comforted His disciples. For instance, last Sunday we read His encouraging words to His disciples: ‘Do not let your hearts be troubled. Trust in God and trust in me’ (John 14:1). Similarly, the Holy Spirit comforts us when we experience the difficulties of life; He encourages us to persevere in our lives. So, let us call upon Him in difficult times.
COUNSELOR: As a lawyer may counsel his/her client (regarding what to say at the court hearing), so Jesus often counselled His disciples through His teachings. Similarly, the Holy Spirit counsels us in many ways:
- When we have to answer for our Christian faith (cf. second reading). Remember what Jesus said about the counselling of the Holy Spirit: ‘When they bring you to the synagogues and magistrates and authorities, do not worry about how or what you should answer, what you should say. For the Holy Spirit will teach you in that very hour what you ought to say’ (Luke 12:11-12).
- Secondly, when we have to discern and make a good decision. For instance, on the question about whether gentile male converts should be circumcised or not, the apostles declared that the Holy Spirit inspired their discernment and decision (Acts 15: 28). Similarly, if through prayer and obedience to the Holy Spirit, we remain in constant touch with Him, He will guide us with divine wisdom in the choices or decisions we have to make in our daily lives.
I pray that we will experience more the Holy Spirit as our Paraclete, especially, as we participate in this year’s Pentecost Novena (the nine days of prayers which begin on the feast of Ascension). Even in our various homes, we can set aside some 10-30 minutes every day to pray and mediate on Scriptures for renewal in our relationship with the Divine Paraclete. As we do so:
- May we experience more the Spirit’s advocacy in our prayers and in our fight against evil, amen!
- May we experience more His encouragement and strength in difficult and challenging times, amen!
- Finally, may more of His counsels abound in our lives, especially in our important decision-making processes, amen!
By Most Rev. John Kobina Louis