Jesus said to his disciples: ‘If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you for ever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you. I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’
Jesus said to his disciples: ‘This is the Spirit of truth … he abides in you, and he will be in you.
As we journey through the last days of the Easter season, and as we approach our remembrance and celebration of Christ’s Ascension, we hear Jesus promising that we will not be left to journey through this world alone. As he finally departs from this world he will send the Advocate to provide an eternal bridge between humanity and God. That Advocate, whom we will come to know as the Holy Spirit, will be our constant companion, a constant intercessor on our behalf and our constant defender in the face of worldly adversity, no matter what shape that adversity may take.
For those who were able to travel with Jesus through the short period of his earthly ministry there was the challenge of believing that the man who stood before them was truly the promised Messiah, the Son of God. For all who came after that brief moment in human history there is the challenge of believing that the man we read and hear about is still the promised Messiah, the Son of God. Such belief, such faith, can be difficult to sustain as we journey through troubled times. To make that journey into faith easier, the fully-human Jesus was followed by the most mysterious aspect of the Triune Godhead, the Holy Spirit.
The Holy Spirit is the final piece in the trinitarian jigsaw. The Holy Spirit is the divine presence of God that abides with us, and abides within us at all times. Jesus promised that if we keep his commandments and remain steadfast in our love for him, then his love for us would know no end. The Holy Spirit is the manifestation in this world of that love.
In today’s reading we hear of Jesus’ wondrous gift to the whole of humanity. Through his incarnation he has brought us into a closer relationship with his, and our, Heavenly Father. But, Jesus understood the human condition. He understood the struggle we would have to remain faithful when we were no longer gathering around an actual person, when our relationship with God would depend upon faith alone. To bridge the gap that would open up, Jesus promised to send the Advocate, the third aspect of the triune God who will travel with us and, if we can bring ourselves to allow it, will also abide within us.
Today we are challenged to allow the Holy Spirit to be that bridge between this world and the divine. We are challenged to follow Christ’s commandments and to dwell in love. Today we are challenged to open the doors of our hearts and souls and minds and invite the Holy Spirit to take up residence and to guide our words and actions for the rest of our earthly lives.