There’s a medieval song that was sung in Latin at Pentecost while the deacon carried the gospel-book in the procession at Mass, prior to proclaiming the gospel itself. It’s called the Pentecost Sequence and it contains line after line that speaks about the gift of the Holy Spirit. It describes the Spirit as Lord of Light, Father of the Poor, Best Consoler, Sweet Comfort, Healer, Giver of Strength, Renewer, etc.
In today’s gospel Jesus says he will ask the Father
to send the “Advocate”. We tend to think of an advocate as someone who campaigns on a particular topic: an advocate for equal rights or an advocate for better housing conditions. In fact, the word advocate really means someone whom you call to stand by your side in solidarity. It’s the equivalent of the other strange-sounding word, Paraclete.
Pentecost rounds off Jesus’ saving work on earth as the Spirit completes the action of Jesus in taking on our humanity and humanising it to the point where it can glimpse the divine. What we see happening at that first Pentecost is that Jesus has not left us alone like orphans; he has sent the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, to be by our side. And the effects are immediate. From being a frightened bunch of weak men, huddled for safety behind a locked door, the apostles are transformed by the Spirit’s presence, are emboldened to go out and confront their fears, proclaiming their faith in
Christ to people from every race and nation.
Someone once said that we should pray as if everything depended on God but act as if everything depended on us. Certainly this is true of the Spirit. We are only too aware of our weakness and our inability to “go it alone” when it comes to living out our faith and telling others about it. That’s why
we pray constantly for the outpouring of the Spirit in our lives, that we may be transformed, strengthened, inspired and supported in our Christian lives.
One thing that we cannot do it to restrict the Spirit. If we ask for the Advocate then we agree to an adventure in faith that has no boundaries. After all, we call on the Spirit just to make us feel good; we ask for the Spirit to come and transform creation:
Lord, send out your Spirit and renew the face of the earth!