Homily for May 16, 2020

Jesus Assures Us of the Coming of the Advocate

We all have some idea, some imagination of our God, and how God looks and acts. We may even have a better idea of what Jesus may have looked like, his actions, and his ideas due to the Scripture and the history that has been left for us. But the third person of the Trinity, the Holy Spirit is more of a stretch for us to imagine. The Mystery of this third person of our Triune God is not easy for us to imagine or envision. The Holy Spirit is a paradox in that she is the person of the Trinity most steeped in mystery, yet ever-present to us all in a very concrete way.

Although we can’t go where Jesus goes, and we can’t love like Jesus loves or be holy like Jesus is Holy, the Helper is sent to be with us and to give us the help we need.

In today’s Gospel, Jesus lets us know about the helper-the advocate-the Paraclete, the Holy Spirit who lives in God and in Jesus and descends on us and lives in all of us. Historically, the Holy Spirit was also known as the Holy Ghost, the name has been retired for many years now but it remains in some memories when referring to the Spirit.

The Advocate helps us to draw close to the Father and the Son and helps us to love, to be more like Jesus. The Spirit helps us live into the holiness that we were born to achieve.

Some refer to the Spirit in the feminine and some in the masculine but you notice that I refer to the Spirit as She. There have been discussions about this for generations. Due to the differences in theological languages of Latin, Hebrew, and Greek the person of the Holy Spirit has been recognized as both male and female as well as in a neutral sense of being.

Knowing that the Triune God transcends our ideas of gender, for our purpose today I will use the feminine pronoun. Whether we think about the Spirit as we make the sign of the cross or through our
sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation or in the upcoming celebration of Pentecost, she is with us!

In today’s Gospel Jesus gives us an idea, a heads up about who and what is to come. Jesus tells us that the Paraclete, the Helper will come to dwell within us all. He tells us that God is in him, he is in us, and we are all in God and God is in us. He assures us that we will not be left alone, we will not be orphaned. The Holy Spirit comes to our rescue in a way. She leads us, keeps us safe, and close to the other two members of the Trinity. She helps us on our way in order to live a more Godly life, in love with our Creator and with the whole world.

Some of us recall the teaching of the Church regarding the gifts of the Holy Spirit.

The gift of wisdom to help us to understand the importance of God.
The gift of understanding to help us grasp the mysteries of our faith.
The gift of counsel, to help us make wise decisions.
The gift of fortitude, to be courageous and to strengthen our will.
The gift of knowledge to enlighten our minds.
The gift of piety, to love and serve God.
The gift of fear of the Lord, to acknowledge and respect the divinity and majesty of God.

These are the traditional gifts of the Helper, sent to bring us into union with our Creator.

This is the Spirit who dwells in each of us, urges us to listen, to be aware, and to know her.

This is the Spirit who leads us closer to the other two members of the Triune God, the Spirit who draws us closer to one another.

She is the Spirit who helps to deepen our wisdom- “Sophia”

She is the Spirit who moves us on the path to holiness.

These are the gifts that Jesus announces in today’s Gospel. Not just to the disciples but to us and to every generation between them and us. This is the announcing of the coming of the advocate, the helper, the Ruach as the Hebrew language refers to her. The Spirit of the gentle breeze, the mighty forceful wind, and the breath of God that God still breathes into us each moment.

During these days where it feels like we are isolated, it is a comfort to know that Jesus assures us we are not alone, we will not be abandoned.

My prayer is that we pray together in preparation for Pentecost when we will once again celebrate the coming of the Holy Spirit and the intimate divine relationship within the Triune God shared with all of us.