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Thursday, May 22, 2014

The Second Advocate

This week the Gospel of John continues with John 14.15-21.  It is a continuation of Jesus' farewell discourse and the beginning of a serious reflection on the work of the Spirit.  I find the language here fascinating.  Jesus tells his disciples that he is going to ask the Father to send them another Advocate to be with them forever.   Jesus is the first Advocate that has been sent by God.  The formless God of the universe has become 'formed' in Jesus of Nazareth and now that the incarnation is about to come to an end, it is the incarnate Word who realizes that there is need for another.  This second Advocate--the Holy Spirit--will be that aspect of God that unlike the incarnated Word--Jesus--will be in the world and actually dwell in/among the disciples.  How do we understand the Holy Spirit?  For confirmation I will take a candle and lite it.  I will tell the kids that the flame is the light of Christ.  I then put a glass container over the flame and we watch it go out.  I then tell them that the oxygen in the air is like the Holy Spirit.  It is that which allows the light of Christ to continue to shine in the world.   I like this metaphor because Jesus uses a word that suggests that like the air we breath, the Holy Spirit will be both within and among us.  That seems to me to be an important aspect of what the Spirit does.  It certainly calls me to holiness and relationship with God; but it also is that which we mutually share and need for life.  That is, it is extremely personally and yet ultimately communal.  I like that.   How do you see the Spirit at work in your life?  
Joseph Mildrofer, Pentecost 1750's

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