Jesus Departure: Coming of the Advocate
In a few days, we shall be celebrating the Ascension of Jesus to heaven. And in today’s gospel, He says: “Unless I go, the Advocate will not come to you; but if I go, I will send him to you,” (v. 7). He continues to say: “And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation,” (v. 8). The original word for convince is convict. And so the work of the Holy Spirit is to convince the world about sin, righteousness and of condemnation or judgment. But Jesus said these words before His passion, death and resurrection. Therefore He is already referring to His final departure from earth. Eight days after Jesus ascended to heaven, the promised Advocate, the Holy Spirit, came who descended upon the gathered disciples on Pentecost.
I invite you to reflect on the three roles the Holy Spirit as enumerated by Jesus: First, the Holy Spirit convicts us of our sin. That Jesus is not the sinner rather the real sin is to refuse to believe in Him. You know both Christian and non-Christian cultures have some concepts of sin and in a way they have some ritual of redemption or process by which the sin is cleansed. In connection to this fact, for us Catholics the Holy Spirit convinces us too of God’s love and forgiveness and of our utter dependence on Him for His mercy and grace. Even Sigmund Freud, an atheist, admitted once that the strongest argument that there is God is people’s certainty about sin.
It is also good to reflect on the words of St. Augustine in his, The Confessions of St. Augustine, about sin that sin arises when things that are a minor good are pursued as though they were the most important goals in life. If money or affection or power is sought in disproportionate, obsessive ways, then sin occurs. And that sin is magnified when, for these lesser goals, we fail to pursue the highest good and the finest goals. So when we ask ourselves why, in a given situation, we committed a sin, the answer is usually one of two things. Either we wanted to obtain something we didn’t have, or we feared losing something we had.
Second, the Holy Spirit convinces us of the righteousness of Christ backed by the fact that Jesus rose again and went to His Father. Physically, we don’t see Jesus anymore. He is at the right hand of the Father as confirms by the Holy Spirit in our hearts. In spite of the fact that He is already at the right hand of the Father, He is more present to us today than when He walks along the dusty roads of Palestine. As the source of all righteousness, He continues to guide our lives from heaven. We are never alone; He is always at our side. It is because He continues to remain with us under the appearance of bread and wine in the sacrament of the Eucharist. This sacramental presence of Jesus is possible by the power of the Holy Spirit. It is a real presence, although we do not have Christ in the way He appeared two thousand years ago. And so let us increase our faith in the real presence of Christ in the Most Blessed Sacrament.
Third, the Holy Spirit convicts us of judgment; that we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God. God’s judgments are just and good. When we heed His judgments we find true peace, joy and reconciliation with God.
And so do we allow the Holy Spirit to have free reign in our lives that He may set us free from the grip of sin and set us ablaze with the fire of God’s love?