Fr Paul reads from the Gospel of John (15: 26 – 16: 4) in which Jesus says to his disciples, “When the Advocate comes, whom I shall send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who issues from the Father he will be my witness – And you, too, will be witnesses because you have been with me from the outset”.
Fr Paul says amid the challenging prophecies of persecution for his followers comes Jesus’ promise of the witness of the Paraclete, one of the four sayings on the Paraclete in the discourse.
The Paraclete is to be the backbone or mainstay of the Christian movement as the substitute and the presence of the physical Jesus. In the first two sayings the help provided by this ‘advocate’ concerned the truth of the message: the Paraclete, the Spirit, would make clear to the disciples the implications and the fullness of the message of Christ. Now the Paraclete, the Spirit, faces outwards in bearing witness to that truth.
‘Paraclete’ is obviously a sort of work-name for the Spirit. Here, the Spirit bears witness by giving the strength to confront opposition and speak out boldly, as we see the apostles doing in the Book of Acts. But we still retain free will, and no strength will come from the Spirit unless our own spirit is moved to stand firm.
In closing, Fr Paul notes today’s Gospel Lesson – with the help of the Spirit we can face anything.