Foreshadowing the Divine Interpreter
“Whenever the divine favor chooses someone to receive a special grace, or to accept a lofty vocation, God adorns the person chosen with all the gifts of the Spirit needed to fulfill the task at hand.” ~ Saint Bernardine of Siena
It’s interesting to note that on the day in which the Catholic Church pauses to celebrate the Feast of Saint Bernardine of Siena, an Italian Priest and Franciscan Missionary who among other things is venerated as the Patron Saint of Advertisers ~ this due to his legendary preaching and communication skills ~ Jesus presents his disciples with something of a “teaser ad” in today’s Gospel (John 16:12-15) as he finds himself in the waning moments of his Earthly ministry. His Ascension into Heaven is now imminent.
“I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now,” Jesus tells them. “But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming.”
It would appear as though this mysterious Holy Spirit, the spirit of truth or Advocate, would in essence serve as a conduit through which God’s graces, heretofore poured out onto the world by way of His Son Jesus, would continue to coarse through the world, directed and guided by the very movement of the Spirit. Bishop Barron offers up an interesting perspective on this exchange when he explains that since Jesus is the Son is God, it is impossible for us to adequately interpret him through our own powers of perception or discernment. We require what he likes to call “a divine pedagogue” through which the speech of the Father is to be understood. This, he concludes, is the Advocate, what we have come to understand as the Holy Spirit.
After Jesus’ return to God, the Spirit will facilitate a fuller understanding of Jesus’ revelation without any change to his teaching. Just as Jesus did, the Spirit will reveal God. When Jesus tells his disciples that the Spirit “will declare to you the things that are to come” (John 16:13), he is explaining to them the Spirit makes possible a deeper understanding of what Jesus means, but specifically for one’s own time, yet it does this without betraying in any way, shape or form the unchanging and everlasting truth of Jesus made manifest by his life, divine revelation personified.
The Church today of course still requires the ongoing influence of the Holy Spirit, this divine interpreter of the Word. We must develop a greater sense of intimacy with the Spirit in our own personal lives as well in order to formulate and develop the proper Christian conscience and response to the array of crises and urgent social issues that we face in the world today. Whether it be the growing income disparity, pandemic preparedness and response, easing racial tensions or reversing the alarming decay of our major urban areas and large cities just to name a few, These very real modern day problems require the divine advocacy of the Holy Spirit in order to be solved in away that is in accord with God’s teachings and His desired plan for all of us.
As our life journey unfolds, the Holy Spirit gradually unwinds God’s message so that it speaks to us at the appropriate times in our lives. Our capacity to grasp this revelation expands as we advance in our willingness and ability to become one in the Spirit. May the Spirit continue to flourish within each of us, guiding us closer and closer to God’s truth with each passing day.