“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot accept…” John 14: 15-17
The Last Supper is Jesus’ LAST earthly encounter with His beloved companions. The later Resurrection appearances already have an “otherworldly “, spiritual feel. And so
on this, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, we begin to turn our eyes toward the coming of the Holy Spirit.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of asking the Father to send another Advocate to be with us always. This Advocate is the Holy Spirit. Interestingly, Jesus uses the title, “Spirit of Truth” to refer to the Holy Spirit. He also points out that the world cannot accept the Holy Spirit.
We are currently living in what we may call the “Age of the Holy Spirit.” Culturally, politically, ethically, etc. we live in a post-Christian age, but ecclesiologically speaking (if I may coin a phrase) it is the Age of the Holy Spirit and this is the age that Jesus spoke about with His Apostles. Therefore, it’s good to look at the coming of the Holy Spirit in the way Jesus revealed it.
First, regarding the title “Spirit of Truth,” we should ponder whether we are able and willing to accept the full Truth (Truth with a capital ‘T”) that comes with receiving the Holy Spirit. If we are of the world, embracing worldly ideas and values, then we will not be able to accept the Holy Spirit. However, if we are able to see the errors of our world (selfishness, bigotry, hatred, etc.) and the many false values within it, we will more easily be able to reject those values and embrace the Holy Spirit and the many truths that the Spirit reveals.
Furthermore, if we are open to the coming of the Holy Spirit, we will receive the greatest Advocate we can have in life. The Holy Spirit is THE Advocate, meaning, the only helper we need. Becoming consumed by the Holy Spirit provides us with every grace necessary in life.
And so how do we reject the errors of this world and embrace the Holy Spirit, The Spirit of Truth? Well, it is not in Petty words and empty sentiments, it is not ONLY in rituals and prayers, but it also is not in lengthy theological treaties. It is OBEDIENCE to the wishes of the Heart of Jesus; it is in imitating His love for others. Love made into action. ACTION serving our brothers and sisters, giving our lives for them, just like Christ’s love from the cross of Calvary. There is no greater love than this. Christ never tires of repeating this command. He wants to convince us that everything else is second to this command.
I have been reflecting on the errors of the world during this time of quarantine, and this led to some much need self-reflection. In my self-reflection, I realized that anger had been the prevailing emotion that I have been experiencing, Anger at COVID-19, anger at federal, state, and local health officials, anger at my superiors, anger at how quickly the pandemic became a political cudgel. In reality, my anger was because of the disruption to my comfort and convenience, the things that have become normal. The things that I thought I was in control of (the way Mass is celebrated, the way I greet friend and stranger, the way I shop and where I go, how I schedule my day). I had to remind myself why I do what I do. I had to remind myself why I became a Catholic and then a priest in the first place, the discovery of the love of Christ. That he first loved me.
In this discovery of Christ’s love for us, we should be compelled to courageously and trustingly leave behind our self-absorption and launch out on the enlivening and everlasting adventure of loving in the same as Christ; we will finally discover and experience what we were created for and what we long for in the end. This is the “new normal” for the Christian, dying to the old self.
Reflect, today, upon the fact that Jesus’ promise to His Apostles has been fulfilled and that you have the ability to receive that promise here and now in your life. Say a prayer to the Holy Spirit and anticipate celebrating Pentecost Sunday in two weeks.
Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit, and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
O, God, who by the light of the Holy Spirit, did instruct the hearts of the faithful, grant that by the same Holy Spirit we may be truly wise and ever enjoy His consolations, Through Christ Our Lord, Amen. Jesus, I trust in You.
May God bless you
Rev. Fr. Douglas A. Ondeck