6thSunday of Easter Year C 2019:
As our Easter season winds to a close, you will notice that the readings are helping to move us toward the Ascension of Jesus and the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. While this passage from the gospel today comes from the Last Supper, the message seems to be pretty clear for us. Jesus will ascend to the Father. But, we will not be without help. The Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit.
We will celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost in 2 weeks. But, it’s not too early to start praying for the outpouring of the Holy Spirit. It seems to me that the Holy Spirit is probably the most neglected of the three persons of the Trinity. We are obviously focused on Christ. He lived among us. He died on the Cross. He was raised from the dead. Also, he always taught us to look to the Father. We pray the Our Father. But, what about the Holy Spirit? Just recently, Bishop Rhoades was here for the Baccalaureate Masses for both Bishop Dwenger and Bishop Luers High Schools. In both masses, he talked about how the power of the Holy Spirit should enable us to live the Christian life. It’s the power of the Holy Spirit, which is the power of God at work within us, that enables us to follow Christ. Most of the time, the Holy Spirit is at work in our lives without us even being aware. But, how much more powerful might his presence be in our lives if we called on him more frequently.
So, I’d like to reflect on 2 things from today’s gospel to help us in our prayer as we get closer to Pentecost. First, the name advocate, second, the advocate’s job as described by Jesus.
Jesus says that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit. This is an interesting word. Advocate is the Latin word (advocatus), the Greek word is similar (paraclete). They both have the same meaning. Clete comes from the Greek word Kaleo which means: to call. Same with Vocatus: the one called on. So, the word advocate and the word paraclete have the same meaning: one who is called upon. Now, this word was used primarily in legal settings, and we still use the word advocate today in legal settings. Advocates help us to make a defense. But, they have to be called upon. I find this really interesting. The word Jesus uses in order to describe the Holy Spirit means: one who will defend you, but you have to call upon him. God never tramples our freedom. Yet, the Holy Spirit is our advocate. He will come to our aid and assistance when we call upon him. Yet, how often do we call upon him? I think it might be good for us to memorize the Come Holy Spirit prayer again. We should never let a day go by where we don’t call on our advocate. Fill the hearts of your faithful, enkindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your spirit and they should be created, and you shall renew the face of the earth. Who among us can say that we don’t need to be filled with the fire of God’s love in the Holy Spirit? Let’s call on him daily as a natural part of our spiritual lives.
Second, what was the job that Jesus said would be entrusted to the Holy Spirit: he will teach you everything and remind you of what I told you. Knowledge and wisdom are gifts of the Holy Spirit. By living in close contact with the Holy Spirit, by being filled with his gifts, we are enabled to see what is right. The Holy Spirit will teach us everything. In my pastoral work, many people find themselves in need of guidance. Maybe it’s a tough family situation, maybe it's a career choice, maybe it’s one of the million other important decisions we might face in a day. I know I always have decisions that weigh in on my thoughts. What about praying to the Holy Spirit? Jesus literally tells us that the Holy Spirit will teach us everything. So, turning to the Holy Spirit in times of doubt, struggle, or indecision is a necessity. He will teach us everything. We even saw this on display in the first reading. The early Christians were confused about the role of circumcision and the Mosaic law for Gentile Christians. But, with the power and guidance of the Holy Spirit, they were led into the truth and made the wise decision. In our own lives, when we face controversy or choice, we too should turn to the Spirit, who will teach us everything.
So, we have 2 weeks till Pentecost. Make these 2 weeks a time of prayer asking God to bestow upon us all the gift of the Holy Spirit. He is our advocate. We call on him and he will come to our assistance. He will lead us into all truth. So, let us pray these two weeks: come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful.