THE SPIRIT OF TRUTH—THE ADVOCATE
We should not regret that the octave of Pentecost has been abolished. Two weeks from now to Pentecost, our attention is focused on the Spirit. Either the readings or the prayers, or both speak of the Holy Spirit.
Jesus was the faithful witness of the Father who showed us, in terms understandable for people, what God is like, but it cost him his life. Through his Spirit, he will make his apostles witnesses too. They have seen, so they MUST speak. They believe, so they MUST speak and act. The Spirit will make them afraid of nothing and nobody. Every Christian is called to be such a witness.
1 Reading: ACTS 16:11-15
We set sail from Troas, making a straight run for Samothrace, and on the next day to Neapolis, and from there to Philippi, a leading city in that district of Macedonia and a Roman colony. We spent some time in that city. On the Sabbath we went outside the city gate along the river where we thought there would be a place of prayer. We sat and spoke with the women who had gathered there. One of them, a woman named Lydia, a dealer in purple cloth, from the city of Thyatira, a worshiper of God, listened, and the Lord opened her heart to pay attention to what Paul was saying. After she and her household had been baptized, she offered us an invitation, “If you consider me a believer in the Lord, come and stay at my home,” and she prevailed on us.
Responsorial Psalm 149:1B-2, 3-4, 5-6A AND 9B
R. (see 4a) The Lord takes delight in his people. or: R. Alleluia.
Sing to the LORD a new song
of praise in the assembly of the faithful.
Let Israel be glad in their maker,
let the children of Zion rejoice in their king. R.
Let them praise his name in the festive dance,
let them sing praise to him with timbrel and harp.
For the LORD loves his people,
and he adorns the lowly with victory. R.
Let the faithful exult in glory;
let them sing for joy upon their couches.
Let the high praises of God be in their throats.
This is the glory of all his faithful. Alleluia. R.
Alleluia: John 15:26B, 27A
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
The Spirit of truth will testify to me, says the Lord,
and you also will testify.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Gospel: John 15:26—16:4A
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.”
As we move liturgically from the Easter season toward Pentecost, our scriptures begin to speak of the Holy Spirit, today defined as the Spirit of Truth, elsewhere as the Paraclete. The function of the Spirit today is to bear witness to Jesus, a witness that is to be coordinated with that of the disciples themselves.
The Spirit is presented as occurring during a time of trial or persecution. The days will come (and by the time John is written, have already arrived), when the disciples find themselves alienated from their Jewish co-religionists and subjected to persecution and even death. They are told that through it all their faith will remain intact. Their enemies will even see the maltreatment of the disciples as a service to God. But they are to remain strong. Their hearts will be fortified by the spirit of truth. They cannot forget that their opponents accepted neither Christ nor his Father. They can expect no better treatment.
The rhythm of life has its positives and negatives. While the Gospel today speaks of persecution, the story in Acts of the Apostles is one of peace and serenity. Here begin the “we” passages in Acts, where the author Luke seems to include himself. One sometimes sees Lydia depicted in religious art as a woman dressed in purple, engaging Paul in conversation. She stands among the women of Philippi who listened to Paul’s preaching. The heart of this God-fearing woman was opened, and she and her household received baptism. She then provided lodging for the itinerant Paul.
Our own experience gives us the evidence of faith-filled lives. Some people, even when they wander, manifest a deep appreciation of the faith that is theirs. Other people, under different circumstances, make a mockery of religious belief and are detractors from the truth. Sometimes we are consoled by our faith; at other times, we suffer for it. But it is the Spirit who gives us the strength to live in accord with what we believe.
We often need courage to bear witness to Christ and his Gospel. If the Gospel contradicts “public opinion,” who else will give us the courage to speak out than the Spirit of truth? May he speak in our words and our lives, with the blessing of Almighty God, the Father, and the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Amen!