We await the coming of the Spirit but how does this make us we feel, especially in these very extraordinary times? Are we feeling expectant or apprehensive, challenged or indifferent, enthused or exhausted; how do we react to the gifts of the Spirit? Jesus speaks of the Spirit as an advocate, and in a very real sense he personifies the Spirit in a way that we tend to overlook. We all know what an advocate is – someone who speaks and acts on our behalf, someone who is on our side. If we think about this a bit more then its not so hard to regard the personification of this advocate in the very people that actually surround us – in other words our fellow Christians who live and work alongside us.
The reality of the Spirit is made present therefore by the contact and interaction that we have with each other, which in these times of lockdown, is expressed, by the love that we share between us. The presence of this love becomes the true manifestation of God’s Spirit in us. It is a living and breathing vitality that endows the ordinary and everyday rituals of being who we are, and of doing what we do, with dignity and sacredness. Remember where we began. The Church begins from a moment of deep crisis and difficulty. Jesus relates to the disciples that he is to be betrayed and put to death. From the very outset then the Church is confronted by the trauma of this moment. It is from the heart of this moment of trauma, that the Spirit is promised. Not as some incomprehensible ethereal force but as a personification of truth, lived out in the lives of all believers.
The Spirit rejoices in our humanity, and recognises that moments of crisis and trauma are integral to it. These are the moments when truth becomes paramount. Humanity will not move forward in justice and peace unless it comes to adhere to the truth. Jesus knew this, he knew that in the moment of crisis into which he was about to enter the world would not see or know the truth. His passion and death was the culmination of humanity’s blindness and refusal to the truth and Jesus acknowledged and accepted this. He tells us though that he will not leave humanity orphaned, or in other words without recourse to the truth, and the resurrection is God’s decisive act in response to humanity’s crisis. This is the moment of supreme significance for all humanity. In the words of The Exultet this moment casts out hatred, brings us peace and humbles earthly pride. It is the moment in which we now live, and whilst we still encounter our crises and our traumas, we do so from a viewpoint that says that the truth about the nature of our human condition is that it has been redeemed by the passion, death and resurrection of Jesus. The realisation of this truth must therefore change our outlook. We must become advocates for each other and Jesus tells us that this will be so.
We often think that the language of Jesus in St John’s gospel is complex and difficult to comprehend, but if we take that language and apply it to our needs and the needs of those around us, we soon see that the message conveyed is centred on our application of the command to love as he showed us. We can only live this out if we are totally committed to an advocacy of truth. Many times in our lives we will be offered moments that demand difficult choices, times when our advocacy is put to the test and we will struggle to come to an answer. It is with these times in mind that Jesus speaks to us from the depths of his struggle. The language he uses is profoundly Trinitarian, expressing how Father, Son and Spirit are one in understanding and experiencing all our needs. Such language conveys the single truth that God loves the world so much that he sent us his only Son and the Spirit of truth is the advocate that is his ongoing gift and expression of that love.