Tuesday, May 15, 2012
The Promise of the Spirit of Truth
May 16, 2012
Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
By Colleen O'Sullivan
Jesus said to his disciples: “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 16:12-15)
Come, Holy Spirit, fill the hearts of your faithful and kindle in them the fire of your love. Send forth your Spirit and they shall be created. And You shall renew the face of the earth.
As I was pondering today’s reading from John’s Gospel, I thought about one aspect of what I do at work. One of my responsibilities at work is orientation of new employees. We’re a small office and we don’t have a great deal of turnover, but over the years I’ve done this at least a dozen times. I’ve learned to put all the information I’m imparting in writing, because inevitably there comes a moment on that first day when I see that I’ve crossed the fine line between being helpful and being the bearer of too much information. At that point it’s best to back off, assure the new person that I’m available for any questions, and remind them they’ve got their orientation booklet for reference.
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus is talking to his beloved circle of friends after their final meal together. In a sense, he’s trying to orient them to carry on his work when he is gone. How he loves them! He knows these are their final hours together, and he has already been talking for quite a while, trying to prepare them in every way possible for his impending death and for their lives as missionaries and ambassadors for Christ when he is no longer with them. He has so much he wants to say. He has washed their feet and reminded them to be servants to one another (John 13). He has assured them that he is going to prepare a place in heaven for them and that he is the Way to that place. He has told them that when he is gone from their midst, his Father will send the Spirit of Truth, who will help them remember all that Jesus has taught them. (John 14) He has recounted the story of the vine and the branches as a reminder that if they are rooted in God, God will always abide in them. He warns them that the world may very well despise them just as it despises Jesus.
As Jesus looks around the room at his closest disciples, he realizes that they are tired, confused and apprehensive. They haven’t totally understood what he’s about over the three years they’ve journeyed together. This is his last chance to be with them before his suffering and death and, although he’d like to tell them everything, but he can see they are already on information overload. They’re beyond being able to process anything more.
So, the Lord tells his friends not to worry; it’s not important that they understand everything that very moment. They will not be left alone. The Spirit of truth will come. And when the Spirit comes, they will have a guide who will glorify Jesus. Just as the Father has imparted to his Son everything that is his, so the Spirit will share with the disciples all that comes from Jesus, the Christ. The Word is the same whether the disciples hear it from the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. What seems so obscure in that discussion around the table will all be made clear, Jesus promises.
Look at the disciples in today’s Gospel reading – lacking in understanding of the nature of God’s kingdom, fearful of unfolding events, ready to bolt at the first sign of trouble. Look at those same followers after Pentecost. This was no small promise that Jesus made after the Last Supper. The Spirit of Truth radically transforms their lives. They are empowered to go out, preach the Word and form the new Church.
What in your life needs renewal or transformation? Lift your needs in prayer and believe that the same Holy Spirit who so changed the lives of Jesus’ first followers can change your life as well.