Think for a moment of a situation when you were supported by someone in a time of critical need. This could have been a time when you experienced some trauma – health problem, illness, financial issue, the death or serious illness of a relative or friend, or just a time when you required a listening heart to help you out of a tough situation.
What memories, feelings or emotions come to mind as you recall that situation? What did this special person, or people do to and for you at that time? As we remember these situations and the assistance that such people can give us, we generally recall feelings of trust, support, love and care – of being listened to and aided by those around us. Our fear can abate and we can experience a resurgence of power, stability and encouragement in order to face that situation.
A similar thing is presented to us in our liturgy today, especially in the Gospel reading [John 14:15-21]. In last week’s Gospel passage, Jesus challenged his disciples to put aside their fear and continue to trust in Him and in God, even though they may not understand what is happening. In today’s Gospel Jesus continues his conversation with his disciples, as he prepares them for his eventual departure, reminding them that he will not leave them alone. With consoling words he informs them that he will not leave them orphans. He reassures them that he will send them ‘another Advocate’, the ‘Spirit of truth’ who will help them to develop and strengthen his word within them, allowing them to show their love for him by remaining faithful to that word and his commands. He assures them that in doing this they will be sharing in the unique oneness of the relationship that he, Jesus, shares with his Father. In a few verses on from today’s Gospel [v. 22-24], Jesus gives his disciples the comforting news that ‘those who love him will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.’
What an incredible and comforting promise Jesus makes to his disciples – and to us- with these words. All that is required of us is to love and remain faithful to the words given to us by Jesus. In the days and years to come, may we recognise the presence of this ‘other Advocate’, especially in those critical times when we find life spinning out of control or in a difficult and confronting situation. It is at these times that we need to recognise that Jesus has not left us orphans or desolate. May we continually rejoice in this knowledge. And may we always allow Jesus to make a home within us. In these coming weeks we will be challenged to see how we can keep this faith alive. As we celebrate the Ascension of Jesus we recognise that we are commissioned by Him to bring his message to the ends of the world. At Pentecost we celebrate the Spirit that has been given to us at Baptism and reinforced at our Confirmation as we pledge to keep our lives open to the promptings of this Spirit. In the following weeks we are immersed in the mystery of the Communion of Love - the Holy Trinity and the sacrament of Love – the Eucharist. Contemplating these mysteries allows us to deepen and nourish our spiritual lives, thus keeping alive the words of today’s Gospel: ‘anybody who receives my commandments and keeps them will be one who loves me and anybody who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I shall love him and show myself to him’ [John 14:21].
Fr Robert Bossini
Dean & Parish Priest