In these unforgettable words from the Farewell Discourse, Jesus announces that he will go to the Father. Sensing fear in his friends, Jesus assures them that he will not leave them to fend on their own. The Spirit will be with them wherever they are and whatever they do.
What they cannot know at this tender moment of having to say goodbye to Jesus is that on Pentecost the promise of the coming Advocate will be fulfilled. Then bickering among them will have to cease. They may suffer due to their commitment to discipleship, but many converts in and beyond the house of Israel will be baptized by them. Instead of being overwhelmed by the demands made on them by conformity to the Cross, the disciples will embrace them. They will come to know the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit in the intimacy of the Trinity.
In these final declarations, Jesus proclaims the distinctive doctrine of Christianity—the revelation of one God in three persons. No other faith (neither polytheistic nor monotheistic) teaches this truth. Having been with Jesus from the beginning of his public life, his followers know the meaning of faith not merely from an informational but from a formational perspective. Because their faith was weak, Jesus performed miracles that amazed their minds and moved their hearts. They marveled at his explanations of the teachings of the prophets. They witnessed the futility of the attempts initiated by treacherous foes to trap him. Though his departure has been foretold, Jesus comforts them as he has always done. Because they are his friends, they have no need to worry. The Spirit will inspire the words and witness they need to draw their listeners to a new way of life, pleasing to God.
Come, Holy Spirit, and lead us where Jesus Christ asks us to go. We ask for courage to testify to the saving power of his word. Amen.
This week’s readings remind us of the powerful role of God’s Spirit. For many Christians, the Holy Spirit is the person of the Trinity we understand the least. In the book of Acts, the Spirit empowers the apostles on Pentecost to speak in other languages and, in so doing, initiates the establishment and missional reach of the church to the wider world. The psalmist uses a wordplay on ruach, the Hebrew word for breath or spirit, to teach us that God’s Spirit was present at Creation and is necessary for the ongoing survival of all life. Paul writes that God’s Spirit confirms that we are children of God and can approach God with confidence, not fear. Even the disciples feel uncertain about what will happen when Jesus leaves, so John provides Jesus’ assurance that God will remain with them and with us through the presence of the Holy Spirit
Read Acts 2:1-21. How often do you take solace in praying in private? Or are you more inclined to move to take action in the public square without praying first? Which site is the more comfortable for you?
Read Psalm 104:24-34, 35b. Where have you seen evidence of nature’s resources being spent? How can you help?
Read Romans 8:22-27. How consequential is it to you to acknowledge that God prays for us and the world? Why?
Read John 15:26-27; 16:4b-15. What instructions do you wish Jesus had left for you?
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