HOLY SPIRIT AS THE PARACLETE
(A biblical reflection on THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [Year A] – May 21, 2017)
Gospel Reading: John 14:15-21
First Reading: Acts 8:5-8,14-17; Psalms: Psalm 66:1-7,16,20; Second Reading: 1 Peter 3:15-18
The Scripture Text
“If you love Me, you will keep My commandments. And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Counselor, 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. Yet a little while, and the world will see Me no more, but you will see Me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in My Father, and you in Me, and I in you. He who has My commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves Me; and he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.” (John 14:15-21 RSV)
In today’s Gospel, Jesus calls the Holy Spirit the Paraclete, from a Greek word Paracletos, meaning “an advocate or helper”. Judges and lawyers often use this word when describing someone who helps or advises the defense in court. Jesus calls the Holy Spirit a Paraclete because the Spirit comes to our defense in our time of need.
Because being a Christian was illegal when the Gospel according to John was written, Roman authorities put on trial many followers of Jesus and condemned them to die a very painful death. While some were fed to the lions and others were crucified or skinned alive, these early Christians needed assurances that God was not abandoning them. Therefore, John says that even though they will be on trial, they will not be alone because the Holy Spirit will be at their side strengthening and inspiring them, helping them understand what is going on, and advising them about what to say. The Holy Spirit will be with them no matter what they have to go through.
Although we are not persecuted for our faith in Jesus, the Holy Spirit also plays an important role in our lives. We seek the advice of a lawyer not only when someone accuses us of a crime but also when we need to know the correct way to proceed on a given matter. The lawyer points us the right direction and gives us support and encouragement. Since it’s sometimes difficult for a Christian to live in a world that does not acknowledge Jesus as God, we need the Holy Spirit to point us in the right direction and to give us advice and support so we can always choose to love God even when that’s not popular.
The reading ends with Jesus telling us those who love Him will obey His commands. This isn’t always easy because elsewhere in the Gospels Jesus says we should love our enemies, do good to those who persecute us, turn the other cheek when someone strikes us, and give without counting the cost. Living by these standards today can be a very difficult task that we can accomplish only with the help of the Holy Spirit.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels)
PRAYER: Heavenly Father, it is indeed a terrifying experience to be left all alone in life. Because of the presence of the Holy Spirit within us, however, we need not have that experience, only if we learn to turn to You with simple earnest prayer in all the aspects of our lives. We also pray for those who have difficulty living out their faith in the risen Jesus Christ, especially those who do not enjoy freedom of religion and those experiencing pressures from friends and/or family. We pray this in the most precious name of Jesus Christ, our Lord and Savior. Amen.
Jakarta, 18 May 2017
A Christian Pilgrim