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MONDAY HOMILY: Jesus Introduces us to the Holy Spirit

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Jesus teaches his Apostles that the Holy Spirit will accompany them and support them in their pilgrimage of faith. Perhaps this year we can observe the days between now and Pentecost as a special time of prayer to the Holy Spirit.  Let us ask him to stand by us and to help us to grow in knowledge and understanding so that we might echo the apostolic witness of the Church in all of our words and deeds.

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CATHOLIC ONLINE (Sugar Land, TX). There are only a handful of instances in the Gospels when Jesus speaks directly about the Holy Spirit.  This is one of them (John 15;26-16:4a).  Speaking to the Apostles during the Last Supper, Jesus wants to strengthen them for the trial ahead.  He tells them about the Spirit, who will help them in the dark days to come.

In this passage of the Gospel, Jesus says a number of interesting things about the Holy Spirit.

First, Jesus uses the word "Advocate" to refer to the Holy Spirit.  This is the traditional translation of the Greek word, "Paraclete" which means a person who is called to stand beside another person. We sometimes call lawyers "advocates," since they figuratively, and sometimes literally, stand by their clients.

Jesus teaches his Apostles that the Holy Spirit will accompany them and support them in their pilgrimage of faith.

Second, Jesus says that he will send the Holy Spirit through the Father (John 15:26).  Although the meaning of this detail is probably lost upon the Apostles at that moment, Jesus is nonetheless indicating that the Holy Spirit is God, just as He and the Father are God.  Jesus thus reveals the Holy Trinity.

The Church's faith is reflected in the Nicene Creed, which we recite every Sunday: "I believe in the Holy Spirit, the Lord, the giver of life, who proceeds from the Father and the Son, who with the Father and the Son is adored and glorified."  Because the Holy Spirit is truly God, we give him the same adoration and worship that we render to God the Father and God the Son.

Third, Jesus refers to the Third Person of the Trinity as the "Spirit of Truth." While the Holy Spirit can certainly stir up the hearts of believers, his action should not be reduced to merely producing an emotionally fueled "spiritual high."  According to the Gospel, the first act of the Spirit is to work upon man's intellect. 

He is the Spirit of Truth.  He communicates and reaffirms the Gospel of salvation and all the truths that flow from that Divine Revelation.  After Pentecost, when they would receive the fullness of the Spirit, the Apostles came to understand that their authority to apply the Gospel to variable and various situations came not from their own personal store of wisdom or right judgment, but from the Holy Spirit (see Acts 15:28).

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Finally, Jesus says that the Holy Spirit will testify to him.  The Greek word that St. John used is "marturesei," meaning "one who shall witness."  It is also the word from which is derived the English word, "martyr."

Martyrs are first and foremost witnesses to the truth of the Christian faith.  We usually apply that term to those Christians who have willingly subjected themselves to death rather than to deny Christ.  At the same time, even without suffering death, all Christians face the reality of martyrdom every day in all the moments in which we must make a choice either for or against Christ.

In two short weeks, we will celebrate the liturgical feast of Pentecost.  That was the moment, fifty days after the resurrection, in which Jesus poured out the Holy Spirit upon Our Lady, the Apostles, and all the other gathered disciples.  Armed with the seven-fold gifts of the Spirit, the Apostles set out to convert the world to Christ.  We owe our faith to them and to their witness.

Perhaps this year we can observe the days between now and Pentecost as a special time of prayer to the Holy Spirit.  Let us ask him to stand by us and to help us to grow in knowledge and understanding so that we might echo the apostolic witness of the Church in all of our words and deeds.

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Fr. Stephen B. Reynolds is the Pastor of St. Theresa Catholic Church in Sugar Land, Texas. You are invited to visit them on the Web at: www.SugarLandCatholic.com.

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