“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 always…….” Jn 14:16
About 12 years ago, I was assigned to work for Franciscan Action Network. One of my tasks was to join with other non profit and faith based groups to visit with the staffs of members of Congress on the topic of immigration reform. We were promoting a more comprehensive program including better path toward citizenship. My work with Franciscan Action Network is called advocacy. It is an effort to speak on behalf of people. Advocacy work is done to persuade government officials to recognize a defect or an injustice related to a marginal groups of people, seeking to promote social justice. Often advocacy will promote the rights of the poor.
We hear Jesus in the Gospel for the Sixth Sunday of Easter speaking of “another Advocate.” We can understand the term “Advocate” in the context of the Gospel in a number of ways. It can be understood as a defender or comforter. The term Paraclete is commonly used in this passage. This is a reference to the coming of the Holy Sprit. In the context of this week’s Gospel, Jesus is saying farewell to his Apostles. He did not leaving them unaccompanied or abandoned. The disciples believed that the Paraclete would continue to demonstrate the truth of God’s love manifested in Jesus by their lives and mission. The Advocate is the bearer of the truth. The Advocate must accompany the followers of Jesus because there are and will be many who do not accept the truth. One of the ways that an advocate works is to speak truth to power. Often those with power and authority do not accept the truth. In our current experience of the pandemic of Covid -19, there our many public officials who are resisting the truth that the rush of opening up and moving from the home risks more transmission of the virus. By resisting the truth or by not taking the proper precautions we could put people in danger. The extraordinary numbers of people who are sick and dying is a stark truth that confronts us every day of the pandemic. Ignoring or denying this truth simply furthers the power of this virus, leads us to more sickness and death. We are very fortunate that Bishop Pates along with the other Bishops of the State of Illinois are very careful and cautious abut reopening. They have the safety and well being of the people in mind. It is truly a sign of the Spirit of God. They are giving us a good witness in promoting the common good. We will follow their guidance in the next few weeks.
The farewell message of Jesus that we hear this week invites us to appreciate the power of the Holy Spirit, the one who is Advocate. The Advocate is the one who leads us, guides us, and empowers us with the truth of the message of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. It is a truth that calls us to give of ourselves for the well being of others. Everything that we say or do can demonstrate the self giving message of Christ.