Our Gospel reading today is from John and the farewell discourse of Jesus. Some of this we read two weeks ago. It is aligned with the first reading which is Luke’s description of the Pentecost event. There is a considerable difference in the descriptions.
Luke’s version is ever so dramatic. Noise and violent wind and tongues of fire set the scene for a grand scale public event. This is in contrast to the description of Jesus. The coming of the Spirit is foretold as a private and deeply personal event. There is no Big Bang, just a few very private words after a foot-washing.
“If you love me you will keep my commandments” begins our passage. Two weeks ago we noted that the commandment of Jesus is to love one another as he loves us. This will lead to the indwelling of the Father in our life. Now Jesus adds, “I will give you another Advocate to be with you forever”.
Advocate. This word has been translated many ways over the years to try and get the full meaning. The Greek word expresses the notion of crying out. The Latin, calling out. Advocate suggest legal representation before a higher authority.
The Holy Spirit. We note this is the expression of Jesus. Holy means pertains to God, Spirit with a small s means breadth. With a capital S, it refers to the breath of God. Mentioned frequently in the Bible, we remember that the Spirit of God breathed over the chaos in the Creation story.
The friendly encouraging words of Jesus in the Gospel of John are contrasted in the first reading to the power from on high that was to mission the Church. Indwelling and mission are the two aspects of the church’s life. We have to be active and we have to be contemplative.
Way back in middle February we began a liturgical cycle called the 90 days of prayer. The first 40 days we called the Season of Lent and we walked with Jesus from the Baptism in the Jordan right up to his death on Calvary. Then we began the 50 days of Easter. Today we end the Easter Season. The double Alleluia at the end of Mass will illustrate that. The Easter Candle will be extinguished and moved to the Baptistery. The 90 Days are over.
But our call to Mission is not. “ The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you”.
Come Holy Spirit.