Readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Peter 3:15-18; John 14:15-21
Promise, role of the Holy Spirit, continued presence and proclamation are some of the phrases that help to focus on the central message of this Sunday. The readings focus our attention on the coming of Christ's Spirit of Truth on the Church, the source of the Church's proclamation of the Christian message to the world. The role of the Holy Spirit in the mission of the Church from the earliest beginnings is confirmed in both the first and the second readings. In the Acts of the Apostles, Philip had gone to a Samaritan town to proclaim the good news of Jesus Christ. We read that the people were united in welcoming the message that Philip preached. On getting the news about the success of Philip, the apostles sent Peter and John from Jerusalem to Samaria, to pray over the neophytes and lay hands on them, "and they received the Holy Spirit". The message of the risen Lord will be kept alive and passed on from one generation to the next in this missionary spirit and action of the Church, by the help of the Holy Spirit, the advocate in times of opposition and trial. The Holy Spirit, in his own silent witness continues to secure the Church's success everywhere, even in most difficult moments of hostile attacks and trials.
The gospel passage Jesus uses two central metaphors: that of an orphan and that of an advocate in reference to himself and the other advocate he promises. Jesus reassures his disciples that he will not leave them orphans. When He is gone, the Holy Spirit will not only care for them, but will be their advocate to plead their case. That is why Jesus in the Gospel assures us that He will not leave us orphans after his ascension into heaven. He will ask the Father to give us another Advocate to be with us forever. His love for us is the reason for sending us another helper, advocate or a comforter. He sends us another Advocate who can plead for us with the Father. Jesus uses the word another since he himself is an Advocate and the other Advocate will come and continue the work of Jesus. The word Advocate is understood as an intercessor, defender, and a witness for the accused, a best friend and a comforter in distress. In general, the word refers to a person who comes to stand by us and protect and gives us support. The Advocate who comes will be a counselor, a monitor, and a comforter. Jesus tells them that when the Advocate comes, whom he will send from the Father, he is the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on behalf of Jesus. He would abide with the disciples to the end of time his gifts and graces would encourage their hearts. The expressions used here and elsewhere, plainly denote a person, and the office itself includes all the Divine perfections. The gift of the Holy Spirit is bestowed upon the Disciples of Christ, and not on the world. This is the favor God gives to his chosen people. As the source of holiness and happiness, the Holy Spirit will abide with every believer forever. The take away message may be summed up in three points. 1) The Good news is that the Holy Spirit has kept alive the faith and hope of Christians over 2000 years in the midst of turmoil and trials. 2) Jesus promises his disciples and us of today that He will never abandon us. The sign of that continued presence is that we belong to a parish community that cares and nourishes our faith. 3) As we wait for the fulfillment of Christ’s promise, may our faith and hope be strengthened; may we be enabled to overcome trials in difficult moments, particularly when we find ourselves abandoned or under attack for the faith.
©2017 John S. Mbinda