Monday of Week 6 of Easter – Gospel

Commentary on John 15:26 – 16:4

We continue reading the discourse of Jesus to his disciples at the Last Supper. Today he promises that the Paraclete, the Spirit of truth will come, sent both by the Father and by Jesus the Son.

As we saw earlier, Paraclete (Greek parakletos) means a person who stands by one and gives support. It can be applied to a defence lawyer in a court of law. So the word is sometimes translated as an ‘advocate’ or someone who ‘consoles’. It can be anyone who gives comfort, good advice or moral support. Various forms of the word are used about eight times in a short and beautiful passage at the opening of St Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians (1:3-7).

Here, the Spirit that God bestows through Jesus on his disciples will be one who will comfort and strengthen them in the sometimes difficult days ahead, and will guide them in their fuller understanding of what Jesus has taught them. The Spirit will confirm all that Jesus has said and done. As well, the disciples are, with the help of the same Spirit, to give witness to all that Jesus has said and done. And again he warns them that they will need all the help they can get from the support of the Spirit because:

They will put you out of the synagogues. Indeed, an hour is coming when those who kill you will think that by doing so they are offering worship to God.

This was a prophecy which was very soon to be fulfilled and continues to be fulfilled down to our own day. People will do this because they do not really know the Father or Jesus. If they did, they too would believe and would recognise the presence of Jesus in the Christian community and its message.

As has been mentioned several times already, we are not to be surprised if we find ourselves (as Christians) the object of attack, of slander, of abuse, of misunderstandings, of contempt. St Ignatius of Loyola is said to have prayed that the members of the order he founded would always be persecuted – it was a sign that they were doing their job. It is a strange paradox, but the message of Christian love and forgiveness, a message of peace and justice, is found by many to be very threatening and one that must be attacked.

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