The Paraclete in the Time of Trials

The Paraclete in the Time of Trials

6th Sunday of Easter

May 17, 2020

John 14:15-21

In the last supper, Jesus promised the disciples that He would send another advocate to be with them forever. Who is this other advocate?

We all know that He is the Holy Spirit, the third person of the Most Holy Trinity. Yet, how did Jesus describe Him in the Gospel of John, and why did He call the Spirit as such? Jesus named Him as the Paraclete, or in Greek, “Parakletos.” This exceptional word comes from two more basic Greek words, “para” means “at the side,” and “kaleo” means “to call.” Thus, “parakletos” can be understood as someone who is called to be at our side, especially in times of need. It is crucial to see the original setting where this word came: it was the court room. No wonder that the word “parakletos” may be translated into English as an advocate like a lawyer who assists us, defend us and speak on our behalf in the legal trial. Yet, as we know, a good lawyer does not only assist within the court room, he is there before and after the trial. He gives his advice and prepares us for the proceedings. In the end, he consoles us if we face severe judgment as well as rejoices if we emerge victoriously. No wonder in English, the word “paraclete” can be translated as an advocate, comforter, counselor, and even helper. But why did Jesus choose this image in the first place?

The reason is that Jesus knew that as the disciples preached His Gospel, they would face many trials. Peter and John faced trial before the Sanhedrin [Acts 4:5 ff]. Stephen was accused of blasphemy and stoned to death [acts 7]. And Paul was put under many judgments before he gave up his life for Jesus. In this kind of reality, Jesus did the right thing: to send the Paraclete. The Holy Spirit would be at the side of the disciples facing trials and hardship as they were preaching Jesus. Indeed, it is unconceivable for these disciples to endure and even give up their lives without the Holy Spirit that were at their side.

In our time, as disciples of Christ, we are facing a global trial caused by the virus covid19. Some of us are luckier because we just need to stay at home. Some of us are fortunate because we can enjoy the livestreaming mass, even twice a day! But for many, the pandemic means losing their livelihood and even their lives. For many, they cannot go to the church even when there was no pandemic.

We indeed need the Paraclete, but one of the gifts of the Holy Spirit is that we are also empowered to be a little paraclete to our brothers and sisters. The moment we, the Dominican community in Surabaya, was required to close the church temporarily for the public service, we immediately were eager to provide an online service to our parishioners. We are thankful that many people donate relief goods to our parish, and our parish priests assisted by lay partners work hard to channel this help to those who are in need.

Instead of complaining that we cannot go to the Church or blaming other for the situations, we should ask the Holy Spirit to empower us to become little paracletes and find ways to be advocates, comforters and at the side of our brothers and sisters in need.

Valentinus Bayuhadi Ruseno, OP

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