Sunday, May 20, 2018
The witness of the Holy Spirit
and the witness of the disciples
1. Opening prayer
Oh, My Father, when will the Consoler come? When will your Spirit of Truth reach me? The Lord Jesus has promised Him, He has said that He would have sent Him from Your womb down to us. Father, then, open wide Your heart and send Him from your holy Heavens, from Your high dwelling! Do not delay any more, but fulfill the ancient promise; save us today, for ever! Open and free Your Love for us, in order that I too can be open and freed by You, in You. May this Word of Yours today be the holy place of our encounter, be the nuptial room to be immersed in You, Oh Trinity who are Love! Come in me and I in You; dwell in me and I in You. Remain, Father! Remain Oh Son Jesus Christ! Remain for ever, Consoler Spirit, do not leave me ever! Amen.
a) In order to insert this passage in its context:
The few verses which the Liturgy offers us today for meditation belong to the great farewell discourse which Jesus addressed to His disciples before the Passion, and which John extends from 13:31 to the end of chapter 17. Here Jesus begins to speak of the unavoidable consequence of following the choice of faith and love for Him. The disciple has to be ready to suffer persecution from the world. But in this struggle, in this pain, there is a consolation, there is a Defender, an Advocate who witnesses for us and saves us: the gift of the Spirit illuminates the human adventure of the disciple and fills us with a living hope. He is sent to make us understand the mystery of Christ and to allow us to participate in it.
b) To help in the reading of the passage:
15, 26-27: Jesus announces the coming of the Holy Spirit, as Consoler, as the defending Advocate. He will be the one to act in the process of accusation which the world has against the disciples of Christ. He will be the one to make them strong in persecution. The Spirit renders witness to the world regarding the Lord Jesus; He defends Christ, who is contested, accused, and rejected. But the witness of the disciples is also necessary. The Spirit has to use them to proclaim with strength, in this world, the Lord Jesus. It is the beauty of our life transformed into a witness of love and fidelity to Christ.
16, 12: Jesus places His disciples – and therefore us too – ahead of their condition of poverty and incapacity, by which they do not understand well neither the words of Jesus, nor the words of Scripture. His truth is still a burden, which they cannot receive, lift up, and carry.
16, 13 –15: In these last verses, the Word of Jesus reveals to the disciples what will be the action of His Spirit in them. He will be the one to guide them in the whole truth. He will make them understand the mystery of Jesus in all its importance or significance, and in the totality of His truth. He will guide, reveal, proclaim, and illuminate, bringing to us, His disciples, the words of the Father. In this way we will be led to the encounter with God. By His grace we will be rendered capable of understanding the depth of the Father and of the Son.
c) The Text:
Jesus said to his disciples: "When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning.” "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."
3. A moment of prayerful silence
I keep silence, from time to time I repeat in a low voice: “Come Holy Spirit”.
4. Some questions
a) “When the Paraclete will come”. Jesus immediately places me in front of a very concrete reality; He opens before me a new time and tells me that this is a time of waiting in my life. The Paraclete is about to come, the Holy Spirit. Why Lord, have I waited for you for such a short time, and has my attention toward you been so weak, so hypocritical? You send someone to look for me and I am not even aware, do I not even show any interest?
b) “And you too will be witnesses”. Jesus affirms this, addressing Himself to His disciples of that time and of today. He speaks precisely to me and tells me: “You too will be a witness”. I am afraid. Why lose my importance before others: my companions in school, in the university, in my team, my friends, who invite me to go out with them? Why this great difficulty? Can I not be a Christian just the same? You are my beginning and my end: You are my whole existence! How could I not be Your witness, Lord? How can I continue to keep silence in this way?.
c) “He will lead you to the complete truth”. I have always planned my decisions to change. I have always been able to do everything alone. And now, Lord, You tell me that another One will guide me. This is not an easy choice, I confess it. But I want to try, I want to accept You, oh You who are Love. I allow myself to be taken hold of by Your Spirit. Will He lead me to the desert, as He did with You (cf. Lk4:1)? Will He open my life, as He opened the womb of the Virgin Mary (Lk1:35)? Will He invest me as He did with Peter, with the others, with all who believed in the preaching, as it is narrated in the Acts of the Apostles? I do not know what will happen to me, but I want to say yes to You.
5. A key for the Reading
* The Holy Spirit Paraclete
At first sight this term may seem a bit strange. It is a Greek word which is quite vague, from ancient times. Saint John referred to it when he said: “I shall ask the Father, and He will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever” (Jn 14:16) and revealing that the Spirit comes to console, to remain with them, to defend and to protect. Here, though, in this verse, there seems to emerge a nuance: the Spirit presents Himself to us as the Advocate, that is, the One who is at our side in the judgment, in the accusation, in the tribunal of persecution. We know the whole story that bears in its heart the accusation, the contempt, the condemnation of the Lord Jesus and for all those who love Him. This is the daily story of all. At the bench of the accused, at the side of Jesus, we also sit, but not alone. We have an Advocate. The Spirit of the Lord comes and acts in the judgment in our behalf: He has discourses, renders witness, tries to convince and to prove. His work is immense in our midst, and for us. Before the Father, our Advocate is Jesus, as John writes in his first Letter (1 Jn2:1); but before the world, our Advocate is the Spirit, whom he sends to us from the Father. We should not prepare our defense beforehand (Lk 21:14), thinking that we can excuse ourselves alone, but we have to make space, within us, for the breath of the Holy Spirit, and allow Him to be the one who speaks, says, proves. Paul also had to have this hard experience. He writes this in his second Letter to Timothy: “The first time I had to present my defense, no one came in to court to support me. Every one of them deserted me” (2 Tim4:16). It is truly like that. There is no defense for us, no innocence, liberation, true freedom from jail, except in the intimate relationship with the Spirit of the Lord. He comes to us, in order that we may allow ourselves to be taken up by His presence, as in an embrace, as in an intimate and intense relationship of friendship, trust, abandonment and love.
* The Witness
I begin to understand, continuing to accept, in my heart, the words of this Gospel, that the relationship of us, disciples with the Holy Spirit, has as its purpose to render us capable of giving our witness to Jesus. We are united unconditionally with the Holy Spirit. We are grasped by Him, taken up in His fire, which is the reciprocal Love of the Father and of the Son, so that we too may become luminous, that we also may be sources of love in this world.
To render witness means to affirm clearly, giving proofs. The first one to do this, continually, is the Spirit. In every place and at all times He acts with power, in us and around us. He is the one who moves the hearts, who changes our distorted and hardened thoughts, who brings us closer, reconciles, impels to pardon, and brings us to union. He is also the One who heals the soul, the sick body and heart. He is the One who teaches, trains and makes one docile. He gives witness to the Lord Jesus, the Savior, through all His actions, soft touches of love, and of communion on our desolate and dry earth. He calls out the Risen One, who has conquered and stepped on death for ever. He gives witness to the Living One, the Glorified One from the One who is with us until the end of time. Behold, this is the witness. The Spirit introduces this in our world, brings it to us. We cannot remain indifferent or choose a bit here and there. He is the truth. And there is only one truth: that of God, His Son Jesus Christ. We are called to give witness to all of this. That is to commit our life, out of love, to this truth. To give witness is to become martyrs, out of love. Not alone, not by our own strength or by our own wisdom. “You will also be my witnesses”, says Jesus. But our wisdom can only exist within the witness of the Holy Spirit. They are not parallel witnesses, but lives fused together: that of the Spirit and ours. This takes place before the infinite tribunals of the world, every day of our life. It becomes a sacred place, almost a sanctuary, of the witness to the Lord Jesus. It is not important to carry out great enterprises, to show wisdom and intelligence, or attract crowds of people. No, one thing alone suffices: to tell the world that the Lord is alive, that He is here, in our midst and to proclaim His mercy, His infinite love.
* The Father
The contact with the Holy Spirit, allowing ourselves to be embraced and invaded by Him, leads us to the Lord Jesus. It leads us to His Heart, to the source of His love. And from there we go to the Father. We had nothing. We were not able to bring anything with us coming into this world and now, behold, we are loaded with gifts! It’s impossible to contain them all. It is necessary to allow them to overflow, to flow outside, toward the brothers and sisters whom we meet.
The Spirit speaks of Jesus and uses the words of the Father. He repeats to us what He hears from the Father. His dwelling is the Father, and coming to us, the Spirit brings with Him the seal of that dwelling, of that place of infinite communion, which is the womb of the Father. We understand well that this is our house. We recognize the place of our origin and our end. Receiving the Spirit of Jesus we rediscover that we also come from the Father, that we are born in Him and we live in Him. If we seek ourselves, if we want to find the way, the sense of our life here, all this is written in the words which the Spirit pronounces for us, within us, concerning us. It is truly necessary to have a great silence in order to be able to listen to understand Him. It is necessary to go back to the house. To finally rethink in the Father and to say, within ourselves: “Yes, it is now enough! I have wandered far away from You for a long time, I have been lost… I will go back to my Father”. I see how many wonders the Spirit of truth can act, that my Lord Jesus Christ sends me from the Father. It will not be Pentecost if I do not allow myself to be taken up by Him, to be led by Him to the womb of the Father, where Christ is already waiting for me, where the fire of the Holy Spirit is already burning for me.
6. A moment of prayer
(The tenderness of the Father is the dwelling of the poor)
Response: Abbà Father, I am your son!
I pray to You, Yahweh,
at the time of Your favor;
in Your faithful love answer me,
in the constancy of Your saving power.
Answer me, Yahweh, for Your faithful love is generous;
in Your tenderness turn towards me;
do not turn away from Your servant,
be quick to answer me, for I am in trouble.
Come to my side, redeem me,
ransom me because of my enemies.
The humble have seen and are glad.
Let your courage revive,
you who seek God.
For God listens to the poor,
He has never scorned His captive people.
Let heaven and earth and seas,
and all that stirs in them, acclaim Him!
For God will save Zion,
and rebuild the cities of Judah,
and people will live there on their own land;
the descendants of His servants will inherit it,
and those who love His name will dwell there.
7. Final Prayer
Thank You, Father, for the coming of the Consoler, the Advocate. Thank You for His witness of Jesus in the world in me and in my life. Thank You because it is He who makes me capable of receiving and bearing the glorious weight of your Son and my Lord. Thank you, because He guides me in truth, He hands me over to the whole truth and reveals to me the Word which You Yourself pronounce. Thank You, my Father, because in Your goodness and tenderness You have joined me today and You have attracted me to You. You have made me enter in the house of your heart. You have immersed me in the fire of the Trinitarian love, where You and Your Son Jesus are only one in the infinite kiss of the Holy Spirit. I am also here and because of this my joy is overflowing. I pray You, Father, make me give this joy to all, in the loving witness of Jesus, the Savior, every day of my life. Amen.