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  • Writer's pictureFr. Scott Haynes

When The Advocate Has Come


St. John 15:26-27; 16:1-4

At that time, Jesus said to His disciples: When the Advocate has come, Whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth Who proceeds from the Father, He will bear witness concerning Me. And you also will bear witness, because from the beginning you are with Me. These things I have spoken to you that you may not be scandalized. They will expel you from the synagogues. Yes, the hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think he is offering worship to God. And these things they will do because they have not known the Father nor Me. But these things I have spoken to you, that when the time for them has come you may remember that I told you.



On Good Friday, Pilate asked Jesus: Quid est veritas - “What is truth?” It is a question that is still being asked today. Where do we find truth? Whom are we to believe? Where are we to look for guidance in the great questions that face us as Christians and as citizens? Jesus promised to send “the Spirit of Truth.” And it is the fulfillment of that promise that we celebrate each year on Pentecost. As Christ prepares his disciples for the fact that He is about to ascend to heaven, Jesus gives the promise of the Holy Spirit.


When Christ makes a promise, we know He is good for it. Not many people have credibility. But the one who has absolute credibility is God. And God gives us the Spirit of Truth so that we may be able to discern what is true. That Spirit of God is at work in our world, in our Church.


There are times when the presence of the Holy Spirit seems obscured. It even seems that at times we cannot hear His voice. Are we living in such a time? There is so much confusion in this world. And we know the spirit of confusion is not of God. Even if people try to block the Holy Spirit, God’s Spirit blows where He wills and cannot be blocked forever. The voice of truth—the voice of the Holy Spirit—will always prevail.


As God’s children we need to open up our minds and hearts to God’s Spirit. That is why Holy Mother Church has given us that beautiful prayer, Veni Creator Spiritus, “Come Creator Spirit,” as an invocation to God’s Divine Presence. As the prophet Joel says,

“I will pour out, pour out my spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters shall prophesy. Your young people shall see visions. Your old shall dream dreams. I will pour out my spirit, and they shall prophesy.”

Scripture itself is telling us that the Holy Spirit is active in the world, active everywhere, and sometimes in unexpected and unlikely people and places. The Spirit cannot be confined, cannot be kept silent. Thus, when things have gone radically wrong, God’s Spirit is bound to intervene and bring about a solution. 


In St. John’s Gospel, the Holy Spirit is called “The Advocate.” The word, in Greek meant someone who would go to court with you, sit beside you, give you support and advice, what we today would call an “attorney.” Unlike a lawyer in a courtroom, the Holy Spirit does not stand beside us but instead dwells within us, appealing to the Father on our behalf from within our souls. What can the Spirit give us? Wisdom, Understanding, Counsel, Fortitude, Knowledge, Piety, and the Fear of the Lord—yes, all gifts of the Holy Spirit.


We need wisdom and knowledge to find the truth. We need understanding to grasp it; Piety and Fear of the Lord to accept it, and Fortitude to live by it. All these gifts are freely given by the Holy Spirit. But what good is a gift if we do not open it, use it, and familiarize ourselves with it. If the gifts under the Christmas tree are not opened, then we have no use of them.


In contrast to the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Bible speaks of the Devil as “the accuser” who night and day accuses us before God (Rev 12:10). Imagine a courtroom scene where you are the defendant, the Holy Spirit is your attorney, and the prosecutor is Satan.


Satan is good at what he does, and he will produce as evidence against you all of your sins, asking the judge for the highest penalty – eternal condemnation with the Devil and all his angels. The Holy Spirit then defends you not on the ground of any merits you have, which surely will pale in comparison to the mountain of evidence the Devil will be able to produce against you, but instead He will point to Christ’s Sacrifice on the Cross, because there, Jesus has won heaven for you.


The Holy Spirit acts as our Counselor not only by securing us a place in the world to come, but also by directing us in this world. In this way, the Holy Spirit works through your conscience – provided it has been well formed by studying the teachings of the Church – convicting you of sin in your heart and urging you to follow the law of the Lord. When you are unsure of what paths to take in this life, the Holy Spirit, the Counselor, will be there to help.


The Holy Spirit is also our Advocate when we pray. St. Paul tells us that “we do not know how to pray as we ought, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with sighs too deep for words” (Rom 8:26). All those who are in a state of grace already have the Holy Spirit within their souls, pleading with God the Father on our behalf.


In that time between Christ’s Resurrection and the coming of the Holy Spirit on Pentecost, the disciples needed courage, because they were paralyzed with fear. Fear compelled the disciples to lock themselves in the Upper Room. But it was the coming of the Spirit that released them from that fear, emboldened them to go out and fearlessly proclaim the truth about Jesus and His message—that message, that truth, was about a God of love and compassion, a God of forgiveness and reconciliation.


Our God is a God who sets us free. He wants us to serve out of love, not out of slavish fear. This is a message that we can joyfully embrace. This is the truth that we seek in our hearts. This is the truth revealed to us by the great Spirit of Truth.


The Holy Spirit came upon the Apostles when they were gathered together. In this way, we see that the Holy Spirit is a gift to the Church. Unfortunately, many people want to divide the Holy Spirit from the Church that He exists to guard and guide, claiming their own private inspiration or guidance from Him in contradiction to the saving truths taught by our holy mother, the Church.


Rather, the events of Pentecost remind us that this Comforter, this Advocate, desires to work through the Church, which is still animated and guided by the Holy Spirit. In the Church we have the surest chance of encountering the authentic consolation of the truth and the authentic advocate – the One who will plead our cause for salvation not because of our own merits but because of Him who died and rose for us.


May we today open our minds to this Spirit of Truth and our hearts to the fire of the Spirit of Love that we may continue, in Hope, to spread the Good News in our Church and in our World. Amen.

 

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