Fourth Sunday After Easter
10 May 2020
“For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you, but if I go, I will send him to you.” Jn. 16:7
During this Eastertide, the Church prepares us for the coming of the Holy Spirit. In his book, Divine Intimacy, Fr. Gabriel, OCD tells us: “Only Jesus’ death could merit this great gift for us, and it was not until after His Ascension into heaven that the Holy Spirit, the Envoy of the Father and the Son, could descend upon the Church.” (p. 503) The Apostles were about to lose the physical presence of their beloved Master, but Jesus would not leave them orphans; He would send them His Spirit who would teach them all things: “But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your mind whatever I have said to you.” Jn. 14:26 Jesus, by His passion and death, had conquered sin and death and merited for the Apostles and His Church the coming of the Holy Spirit. Fr. Gabriel tells us: “The sending of the Holy Spirit to our souls is the principal fruit of the Passion of Jesus.” Gabriel, Ibid. p. 504 In today’s Epistle (Jas. 1:17-21), St. James tells us that the best way to prepare ourselves for the coming of the Holy Spirit is to avoid sin: “Therefore, casting aside all uncleanness and abundance of malice, with meekness receive the ingrafted word, which is able to save your souls.” Ja. 1:21 Whoever has the truth and the light of Christ rejects sin; such is the first lesson of the Holy Spirit.
“And when he has come, he will convict the world of sin, and of justice and of judgment: of sin....because they do not believe in me.”Jn. 16:8-9
Msgr. Patrick Boylan in his book, “The Sunday Gospels and Epistles,” tells us that the Holy Spirit will convict the world of sin: “Our Lord had challenged His enemies to convict Him of sin—but the world will itself be convicted of sin by the Spirit-aided preaching of the Apostles. The sin which the world will be shown to have specially committed is the sin of unbelief. The preaching of the Apostles, aided and confirmed by the Holy Spirit, will bring home to the adversaries of Christ the sin they have committed in rejecting Him.”
“Convicted.... of justice, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no more.” Jn. 16:10
The second lesson of the Holy Spirit is to convict the world of its injustice in not believing that Jesus was indeed “the Just One and the Chosen One of God.” “The Paraclete (Advocate, Holy Spirit) will also convict the world of its folly in regard to justice. It had looked on Jesus as a profaner of the Sabbath and blasphemer: but the Resurrection and Ascension of Christ will be used by the Spirit to prove that Christ is indeed the Just One, and the Chosen One of God. The charisms of the Spirit and the growth of Christ’s Church will help to show its divine character and thus completely to vindicate its Founder. Thus even though the disciples must give up the joy of having Jesus visibly with them, their deprivations will ultimately help to establish the greatness and holiness of their Master.
“Convicted... of judgment, because the prince of this world has already been judged.” Jn. 16:11
The third lesson of the Holy Spirit is that it was not Christ who was convicted, but his persecutors: “In the third place, the Paraclete will show the world to be wrong in regard to ‘judgment.’ The enemies of Jesus had believed that, with the death of Jesus, their case against Him had been finally established. The Paraclete will show that it is they who have been condemned, with their leader, the Devil, ‘the Prince of this world.’ (cf. Jn. 12:31)
“Good triumphs over evil”
“The Paraclete will prove, therefore, that the ‘world’ is sinful, that justice (righteousness) is on the side of Christ, and that condemnation of the powers of evil has definitely begun. To the ‘world,’ then, belongs sin: to Jesus belongs justice and (the) verdict of victory. Thus, in a word, it will appear after the coming of the Spirit that good triumphs over evil, that holiness ultimately judges sin, and Christ condemns and overthrows Satan.” (cv. Lk. 10:18, 11:22) Boylan, Ibid. p. 50
Apostles enlightened by the Holy Spirit
As Jesus had said, “...he will teach you all things” (Jn. 14:26). The Holy Spirit will enlighten and strengthen the Apostles to understand all that Jesus has spoken to them. “The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth: He brings truth home to the minds of men. He will guide the Apostles into the full truth: He will lead them gradually but steadily towards the full comprehension of Christ, Who is Truth itself.
“The ‘full truth’ is not fullness of knowledge of nature or history, but Christ---‘the Way and the Truth’ Jn. 14:6. The Spirit is the guide who points the way to the Truth. (cf. Ps. 25:5 & 57:7) To the Spirit is here assigned the work which in the Psalter (Psalms), belongs to the Spirit of Yahweh. ...The Spirit will announce what is to come. He will make known through the Apostles the new economy which will begin at Pentecost.
The Holy Spirit ‘convicts’ the world today.
“As the Jews rejected Christ in the Apostolic Age, so others reject Him in our day, and as the Jews foolishly believed that they had overthrown Christ and destroyed His work, so there are groups of men—even large sections of nations—today who aim at destroying Christ’s work, and representing it as useless, if not noxious, for humanity. In spite of all these new enemies of Christ, the life of the Church goes on, and is deepened and widened, and its capacity to adapt itself to every need of the time becomes every day more obvious. Now, therefore, as in the Apostolic days, the Holy Spirit is showing up –‘convicting’—the world in regard to justice. ...The daily sacramental life, and the never-ceasing spiritual growth of the Church, are the Holy Spirit’s answer to false teaching and persecution—whereby He ‘convicts’ the world of ‘judgment.’” Boylan, Ibid., p. 52-3