Before his physical departure from his friends, Jesus promises them an Advocate who will remain with them forever. This great Helper will imbue them with such spirit and wisdom that they will carry out and flesh out Jesus’ project. ”If you love me you will keep my commandments.” The impact of the Spirit on Jesus’ friends is primarily that of a dynamic love.
I like the phrase that Jesus uses when speaking of the Spirit: ” I will ask the Father and he will give you another Advocate; you know him because he is already in you”. Jesus implies that his friends will be able to receive the Spirit because they already know him. The Spirit is already a kindred spirit to the disciples. They will recognise him as the one who was with Jesus all the time and was particularly evident in him in the significant events of his life. These words of Jesus to his disciples must have engendered confidence in them and an awareness that the abiding presence of the Spirit will create in them an increased awareness of Jesus.
On this Passover night Jesus says to his friends, ”I will not leave you orphans’, or, as another translation says, ”I will not leave you desolate.” This phrase brings to my mind what a lady said to me recently: ”These restrictions which have been brought in because of Covid 19 leave me feeling desolate.” This lady lives alone in a small apartment. Covid 19 had turned her world upside down: she could not meet her friends, could not do her shopping or browse around the shops. She could not even go for walks as she was over 70 years. I wonder if Jesus’ words to his friends” – I will not leave you desolate, ”have any meaning for people in situations like this. Jesus was a person who perceived the latent strength in those who felt isolated, ill or marginalised. He knew that with the help of the Spirit they could be transformed. In the midst of our present difficulties and fears of what might happen after Covid 19, we see people who, like Jesus, stand up and give messages of hope: they indicate a way forward, a new way of living – a neighbourly awareness, new values, a new way of seeing one another.
In modern times many people have become familiar with the notion of the interconnectedness of all things. We are aware of the wonderful connection between all that grows and lives on the earth, of the ability to connect that our technology has afforded us. We humans are part of all this amazing connectedness, and we have come to realise that our little earth is connected with the whole universe. I find it good to recall that God our Father is the God of all this awesome creation and that from him comes all interconnectedness and unity. Jesus, aware of the desolation that his departure may cause his friends, indicates to them that a new, rich relationship awaits them. They often heard Jesus speak of the Father before, but now they will have a deeper insight into the height and depth of this relationship. They will come to know that they themselves have a similar relationship with Jesus. Being united so strongly with Jesus, they will in turn be aware of their deep relationship with the Father: “On that day you will understand that I am in my Father, and you in me and I in you.”
Sr Kathleen Egan OP