In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us that Advocate is coming, that is the Holy Spirit. The New Testament comes up with some pretty cool names. The comedian Jim Gaffigan does a routine about how the followers of Jesus came up with their names. He imagined the 12 asking Jesus if they could be called “The Apostles” or maybe “The Disciples” (like a motorcycle gang). They would get leather jackets with “Apostles” or “Disciples” embroidered on the back with a big eagle. Very funny when you think about it.
Today we get another interesting cool word, “The Advocate.” Thinking like Jim Gaffigan, you wonder if the Holy Spirit said to God, “Can I have a cool name like ’The Advocate’?’’
All kidding aside, Jesus says the Father will be sending The Advocate, the Holy Spirit. Interesting order of words, the title “The Advocate” is said first. It seems as though Jesus wants to make sure the disciples understand what the Holy Spirit really is and what its role is, before their human imaginations get carried away trying to grasp what a Holy Spirit is. Remember this specific introduction of the Holy Spirit for them must have been odd from the beginning. Sure, 2000 years later, we don’t think much about it. We are comfortable with the Trinity and the three persons of the Trinity. But for the disciples in first century Palestine, the idea of a trinity of three persons of God, would have been unimaginable. Remember one of the single most tenant of the Jewish faith is “Here O Israel, the Lord our God is One.”
Making sure the disciples don’t focus too much on who the Holy Spirit is but rather, what the Holy Spirit does. The Holy Spirit is to advocate for us. We are familiar with what an advocate is, someone who speaks on our behalf, represents us, pleads our cause. You might wonder why we need the Holy Spirit to be our advocate and who he is advocating for us too. The Holy Spirit advocates for us to the Father…let that sink in. Why is that necessary? Does God the Father need a spokesperson pleading our case to a god who may or may not appreciate who human beings are?
Clearly, this is not the case. A good way to think about the Holy Spirit as our advocate, is to imagine the Holy Spirit constantly holding us up to be seen and appreciated and loved. In other words, The Holy Spirit, as our advocate gathers us in to be part of the Trinity in a specific and unique way. The Spirit encircles us and draws us up and in the Godhead.
As we hear this Gospel, it’s easy to glide right over the words Jesus offers about the Spirit as our advocate. In reality, this is an important point and a unique and divine way of living. We live in the Godhead as the Holy Spirit holds us up and pleads our cause within the Trinity.
Father Jim Kirby