From Pauses for Pentecost
I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another advocate
to help you and be with you forever.
There are moments when we need consolation. Someone misunderstands us and makes an unfair judgment about us. A dear friend betrays us with false accusations behind our back. We are excluded from our church for some reason. A terrible depression descends bringing a sense of disconnection from everything and everyone around us. We lose someone whom we have loved deeply. In painful moments like these, and there are countless others like them, we need to know someone has our back and is there for us. We need to know that we are not alone. We need someone who will be with us through it all.
As Christ followers, we celebrate the good news that the Paraclete lives in us and consoles us. The Paraclete is my favorite title for the Holy Spirit. Gospel writer John uses the word four times in chapters 14 to 16, including in the verse above where it is interpreted counselor or advocate. It carries many rich meanings that are difficult to translate into one English word. Primarily it speaks of someone who counsels us, defends us, speaks on our behalf, comes to our aid, and comforts us. I love these words of Jean Vanier: “The Paraclete is given to those who are lonely and need the presence of a friend, to those who are lost and poor in spirit and who cry out to God.” In a way that goes far beyond words, the Holy Spirit consoles us as Jesus consoled his disciples.
But we need to take this one step further. As Easter people, we are empowered to become paracletes to others in need. God calls us to give the same consolation to those in need that we have received ourselves. Through our lips, hands, and eyes, we must allow the consolation of Jesus to flow toward those around us. We need to embody the spirit of consolation. In the words of Saint Francis’s well-known prayer, “Let us not so much seek to be consoled, as to console, to be understood, as to understand.” This is what the Holy Spirit comes to do in and through us. We are given the strength and the energy to witness to the consolation and comfort of God to a desperate and hurting world.
Right now, open yourself to the breath of the Paraclete breathing into you the consolation that only Jesus can give. Know that there is Someone who has your back and who is there for you. Know that you are not alone.
Take some time to say the words the prayer of Saint Francis, above. Think of one person in need with whom you can spend a few moments today.