This Sunday’s Gospel :The Paraclete

He wore steel rimmed glasses and had hair to the middle of his back.  The fringe on his buck-skinned jacket bounced as he walked.

At least that was the way I was accustomed to seeing Mike as he bopped around town.  It was just a few years after Woodstock, and we were all taken with hippie culture.  It seemed so free, so new, so exciting.

But that day at the entrance of the mall, I scarcely recognized him.  His hair was cut and his clothing conventional.  He was passing out tracts and spoke to me of the Holy Spirit.  I scratched my head and vaguely remembered some talk about the Holy Spirit in confirmation class.   But I had to admit that I really did not know much about this third person of the Blessed Trinity.

This is quite common among Christians.  God the Father–we can get a glimpse of his tenderness and strength, thanks to Michelangelo’s magnificent Sistine ceiling.  And baby Jesus in the manger, the savior hanging on the Cross–these are images we can easily visualize.  But Holy Spirit, Holy Ghost?  Somehow, we can’t feel quite the same way about a dove as we do about a child on its mother’s lap.  And then what does this “Spirit” do?  The Father creates, the Son saves, but the Spirit?

ParacleteJesus calls him the “Paraclete” as he prepares the disciples for his departure (Jn 14:15-21).  Frankly, this does not help us much–unless, of course, we get a bit of explanation.  This word means “Advocate.”  It is the word for lawyer or attorney in Spanish and other languages.  There may be lots of jokes about lawyers, but when you are in trouble with the law, having a good lawyer is no laughing matter.  That’s the role of the Holy Spirit– He is our defense attorney.

Now part of the role of the defense attorney is to tell his client how to plead.  Sometimes, when the evidence against you is overwhelming, the sentence will be a whole lot lighter if you just plead guilty.  The Spirit counsels us to be honest, convicting us gently of sin–not to accuse us, not to condemn us, but to help us win our case.  He is the Spirit of Truth.  Blessed John Paul II’s theme was “Be not afraid.”   Be not afraid of the truth about your sin, your weakness, and your failings, says the Spirit.  For the judge happens to be the one who loves you so much that he died for you. Your judge is the same one who saved the woman caught in adultery from the rage of the hypocrites.

But he is also the one who told the adulteress to “go and sin no more.”  This is the real problem.  How is she to do that?  Sin was where she looked for life.  It drew her like a magnet.

Craving for drugs, booze and “free-sex” drew my hippie friends like a magnet in the 1970′s.  If we were acquitted by the Judge through the counsel of the Advocate, how were we to resist the allure of sin?

Archbishop Fulton Sheen once said that the only way to dislodge sin from one’s life is through the expulsive force of a new love.  This is the role of the Advocate.  He is the Love of God who is poured into our hearts (Ro 5:5) who drives out unlovely loves.  He is the Lord and Giver of true life who makes utterly clear that so many other things that we regarded as “life” are really death warmed-over.

Once you have a taste of the real thing, you are never again satisfied with imitations.  That’s why Mike abandoned the drug scene.  That’s why the Magdalene and the Samaritan woman abandoned all other lovers.  That’s why the rejoicing in Samaria rose to fever pitch (Acts 8:8).

The Holy Spirit is the real thing.  And he does not just come and go.  He is with us always.

Marcellino D'Ambrosio, Ph.D.

By

Dr. Marcellino D’Ambrosio writes from Texas. For info on his resources and pilgrimages to Rome and the Holy Land, visit www.crossroadsinitiative.com or call 800.803.0118.

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  • BillinJax

    Amen to your words Dr. D’Ambrosio and God Bless Texas!

    The very reason our redeeming crucified and risen Christ was anxious to
    return to the Father was to allow Pentecost to take place. “For if I do not go
    the Paraclete who’ll fill you with the power to do greater things than I
    (alone) have done will not come”. Can you imagine what anticipation the
    disciples must have had looking forward to the arrival of the Spirit, the third
    entity of our Triune God, who’d give them such strength and courage.

    We Christians came to “Life” through our baptism. Jesus, the Teacher, set
    the example and gave us the words of life. However, the new life within us
    can’t continue without nourishment. The followers of Moses, the Israelites,
    were sustained by manna from heaven in the desert under the old covenant. Jesus
    came to announce the Kingdom of God
    and said he was the “living bread” which has come from heaven and “He who eats
    my flesh and drinks my blood will have life and the Father and I will abide in
    him.”

    This caused many who could not accept his words of “life” to turn from him.
    Those who did not understand but chose in faith to believe in his words had
    this mystery of faith revealed to them and us before his Passion at supper when
    he offered his disciples the first Eucharist, his body and blood in the bread
    and wine that we could continually be in “communion” with him, the one Body of
    Christ.

    The new life in Christ bequeathed to the apostles and disciples being
    created and nourishment provided in the Eucharist was now ready to be
    empowered! Christ’s mission for the Father, punctuated by his death and
    resurrection, was completed, his “sheep” inspired and instructed, his authority
    established, and his reign proclaimed. He now is to go and prepare a place for us
    but the mission to save mankind was to be bequeathed to his followers. Yet they
    were not to be left without a shepherd or orphaned by his departure. Three
    times Peter was told to “feed my sheep”. And to the apostles, “He who hears you
    hears me.” And also “whose sins you forgive they are forgiven, whose sins you
    retain….” Thus His mission had been handed to the “church” he founded and the
    leaders he anointed. Now, by the risen Christ’s redemptive sacrifice and
    through the reception of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, God’s abiding love is to
    be spread across the globe to all those who would accept this Spirit of truth,
    the love of God for all men. This greatest of all gifts which God offers us is
    not to be “hidden under a basket”. It is the light of the world.

    We are called, commanded if you will, through the Spirit to give life and
    limb to the one “body of Christ”. This is how those “greater things” are to be
    accomplished by the “labor of the few” in the great “harvest of souls”. Through
    Christ we are to share in mankind’s redemption and his mission by the gift of
    freewill granted by the Creator. He came to make it all possible for us. He
    “ordained” a ministry of both clergy and laity within the one body for the sake
    of mankind in order to “create a worthy people” for the Father from a world
    which Satan had entered and wished to lay claim.

    You see, our master the Teacher came humbly in human form into our world
    with great love to gather and instruct God’s children. He proved to all to be
    “God among us” as the Spirit had named him at the time of His conception
    through the “works” he preformed. And thus God revealed He could be human…. for
    our sake. Now, the Spirit of Love at Pentecost comes to the disciples, and
    through them, to all humanity to give us the strength and courage to go forth
    in His name accepting the challenge to do “God’s work” on earth…. for His sake.

    Having desired and invited the Spirit within us we accept the commission to
    do the work of the Father and the Son. This way we can share in the glory of
    God and his creation, awakening the entire world to the Eternal love of the
    Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

    Bill Sr.

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