Homily for the sixth Sunday of Easter - Year A - Jn. 14:15-21
Canon Dr. Daniel Meynen
" If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you.
" I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.
" He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him. "
" If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Paraclete, to be with you for ever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. "
These words of Jesus spoken on the evening of Holy Thursday remind us of other words, pronounced by Jesus in the synagogue of Capernaum: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (Jn. 6:56) And they were immediately followed by these: "As the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so he who eats me will live because of me." (Jn. 6:57)
On the evening of Holy Thursday, Jesus instituted the sacrament of his Body and Blood: the Eucharist. At the same time, he instructed his disciples concerning the action of the Holy Spirit. For the two are linked: the Eucharist and the Holy Spirit go together. Curiously, however, the sixth chapter of Saint John, which contains the discourse of Jesus at Capernaum, does not say a word about the Holy Spirit. In fact, this only appears to be the case. Jesus provides the explanation for this at the discourse after the Last Supper: indeed, he calls the Holy Spirit "another Paraclete" (Jn. 14:16). For Jesus himself is the first Paraclete!
Let me be clear: there are not two Holy Spirits. But there are two Paracletes, that is, two divine Persons who exercise toward men a similar action, that of watching over them and protecting them from the devil, from the world, and from each other.
Jesus acted as a Paraclete throughout his life on earth. The Holy Spirit came on the day of Pentecost in order to remain forever with the Church and with all men of good will, watching over each one as "another Paraclete". In order that there might be no interruption in this action of the Paraclete between the Ascension of Jesus and the descent of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, we can even say that Mary, who watched over Jesus during his life on earth, and who assists the Church since her birth on Pentecost, exercised a wholly maternal role, similar to that of the Paraclete, toward the Apostles during the ten days that separated the Ascension from Pentecost: "All these with one accord devoted themselves to prayer, together with the women and Mary the mother of Jesus." (Acts 1:14)
With the coming of the Holy Spirit on the day of Pentecost, the Apostles and those who were ordained priests began to celebrate the Eucharist, or the "breaking of bread" (Acts 2:42). During Eucharistic communion, the Apostles, the Christian faithful, and all of us who receive within us the Bread of Life, are in communion with the Paraclete, the first Paraclete, who watches over us and establishes us in his rest. Jesus-Eucharist comes to dwell in us, we who dwell in him: "He who eats my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." (Jn. 6:56)
After the sacrament of the Eucharist is fully consumed, which may take about ten to fifteen minutes, is Jesus no longer in us? Under the Eucharistic form, we must say no. But, just as the Ascension is followed by Pentecost, in the same way, after the first Paraclete, Jesus, comes the second, the Holy Spirit, in the measure, of course, that the first Paraclete was welcomed...
" He will give you another Paraclete, to be with you for ever. "
The Holy Spirit, the other Paraclete, dwells in us, through Eucharistic communion: he rests in us, in the measure that we have rested in him, through faith, hope, and charity. As we also need to rest, not in God, but in ourselves, or rather, in our bed, each night, this presence of the Holy Spirit, this resting in us of that "other Paraclete" ceases to be present to our consciousness. For, as everyone knows, to sleep means to voluntarily lose consciousness, necessarily.
But let us rest assured: when we awake, the Holy Spirit is still there, in us, unless we have offended him by some grave sin. However, this presence of the Paraclete partly escapes us, and it is only through the new day's communion that we will again, in a way, touch that presence! "Our Father, give us this day our daily bread!"
May the Most Blessed Virgin Mary be our Mediatrix before her Son, the first Paraclete, he who bears the Holy Spirit, for the Glory of God the Father!