Fr Paul Gooley reads from the Gospel of John (15: 26 – 16: 4) in which Jesus says, “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father—the Spirit of truth who goes out from the Father—he will be my witness and you 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 for, or presence of, the physical Jesus. In the first two sayings the help provided by this ‘advocate’ concerned the truth of the message: the Paraclete would make clear to the disciples the implications and the fullness of the message of Christ. Now the Paraclete faces outwards in bearing witness to that truth.

‘Paraclete’ is obviously a sort of work-name for the Holy 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 Paraclete unless our own spirit is moved to stand firm.

Fr Paul invites us to reflect on today’s Gospel Lesson – with the help of the Spirit we can face anything.