Sometimes Words Matter

Happy Easter.  This evening Holy Mother Church brings to conclusion the great season of Easter.  In fact, Pentecost ends an intense multi-season celebration of God and His coming to us to lead us home.

  • We can go back to Advent and Christmas and remember our reflections on waiting and then celebrating God among us. His millennia of partial revelation coming to fulfillment with His birth in Bethlehem.
  • After a few short weeks of Ordinary time we then dove deeply within ourselves during Lent to take stock of how we are returning this gift and coming to terms with our shortcomings.
  • We needed this time of discernment so that we could fully appreciate Christ’s great gifts of obedience to the Father and His act of love for us during the Sacred Triduum.
  • Then we celebrated the reason for our joy and our hope – God loves us and He has opened up heaven to those who love Him – the light of the resurrection is our beacon calling us home.

But now – now we are being shown the door from this great multi-season celebration.  God is pushing us out into the streets where we live with these insights and expecting us to continue the mission to those who never heard the good news or have forgotten.  He does not expect us to stay in our upper rooms and keep Him to ourselves – we are not to be what Pope Francis calls ‘sacristy Catholics’.  This going out can be really scary – like trying to ride a bike without the training wheels for the first time.

But, just like the first time without training wheels someone is watching. Christ told His followers not to fear – He would not leave us alone.  Today Jesus Christ makes good on this promise – His Holy Spirit has come among us.  ‘And I will ask the Father: and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever:[1]

I used the Douay-Rhiems translation, a very old translation for a reason – it uses the word Paraclete to describe the Holy Spirit.  Most newer versions have changed that word to: ‘Advocate’[2], ‘Counselor’[3], ’Comforter’[4], Helper[5]. As descriptive as these words are for in trying to describe the Holy Spirit and His relation to us they are missing the intimacy that ‘paraclete’ describes (and the Holy Spirit has with us).  These words ( Advocate, Counselor, Comforter, Helper) describe action and service not relational closeness whereas Paraclete does. Paraclete is from the Greek word Parakletos which is constructed from two words: Para (alongside) and Kalein (to call); together it means ‘called next to us’.

Jesus didn’t just give us a spirit that shows us the truth, and distributes graces according to our nature and His will. He didn’t just give us a ‘contractor’ that offers us assistance. He gave us His Spirit that will always be next to us. We will never be alone; God is right next to us.

Like the Apostles this should give us the peace and strength to start ministering on those streets that we have been pushed into. Never in our lives do we need to fear about being alone – God is with us. Never on this journey do we need worry about losing our way since our companion will lead us true. Never will we be without God because we always have the Holy Spirit who is ‘called next to us’. Sometimes words matter.

For the last time this year – Happy Easter!!!!

————————————————————————–

[1] John 14:16 (Douay-Rhiems)
[2] New American Bible (NAB)
[3] Revised Standard Version (RSV)
[4] American Standard Version (ASV) and King James Version (KJV)
[5] New American Standard Bible (NAS)

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