In our gospel this Sunday, Jesus promises that his heavenly Father will send his disciples another “advocate” to be with them forever. The original Greek word here is “paracletos” and it literally means “one who calls out for another.” This could be translated as spokesman, mediator, intercessor, comforter or a defense counselor. Here it is translated “advocate”, in keeping with the general “courtroom” ambience of the gospel of John, and the term is applied to the Holy Spirit. For whom will the Holy Spirit be the advocate? In 1 John 2:1, Jesus is also called the “advocate,” in this case he is the advocate before the Father for any person who sins. The writer of the book of Hebrews also speaks about this role of Jesus, when, in chapter 7, verse 25, he says that “Jesus lives forever to intercede for us before the Father.”
The Holy Spirit is also an advocate in Jesus’ name for Christians, but before whom will the Spirit defend us or present our case? Since there is no division within the three Persons of God, the Holy Spirit does not defend us before the Father – that is Jesus’ role. In verse 26 of chapter 14 of John’s gospel, we are told that the Holy Spirit Advocate will teach and remind us of all that Jesus had done and spoken. Likewise, in John 15:26 , Jesus says the Advocate will testify to him. The Holy Spirit then is an advocate for Christians as they face the “court” of the world in which they live. The Holy Spirit provides support and defense against the challenges we Christians face as we live out our faith.
Mark 13:11 (also Matthew 10:19-20 and Luke 12:11-12) indicate that the Holy Spirit will speak for Christians and give them the words to say when they are brought before civil authorities for being followers of Christ. Jesus promises the Spirit will give us an eloquence when facing our opponents that they will not be able to overcome. The recent movie “God’s Not Dead” gives a magnificent demonstration of how this works when it shows a first-year philosophy student standing up against his atheistic professor and a whole classroom of students who have just declared that “God is Dead” and winning them over to his position by his cleverly reasoned arguments.
Jesus indicates in today’s gospel that the Holy Spirit will not come merely for a visit but will remain forever, continuing to speak the truth of Jesus to us and through us. No moment would show so clearly the convergence of these two dynamics as the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles on the day of Pentecost followed by their proclamation of Jesus to thousands of people in the streets of Jerusalem that same day.
“Come Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful, and enkindle in us the fire of your Love. Send forth your Spirit and we shall be created, and you will renew the face of the earth”