Part of Jesus’ Last Farewell is the assurance that he will not leave the disciples ‘orphans’. Hence, he tells them not to be troubled or afraid. The “Parakletos” is coming, sent by the Father in his name. The New American Bible, the New Revised Standard Version, and the Jerusalem Bible consistently use ‘Advocate’ to translate this Greek word. Other translations render it as ‘Paraclete.’
In earlier Greek, ”Parakletos” signify one called in to be a person’s defence, a helper in court, one who pleads the cause of another. During the time of Jesus, the Jews – largely ignorant of the Roman law and language – usually employ Roman ‘advocates’ in their trials before the Roman courts. So by referring to the Holy Spirit as ‘Advocate’, Jesus describes what is the work and office of the Holy Spirit. Aside from being the Spirit of gifts and empowerment sent from the Father to continue the mission of Jesus, this Spirit is Counsellor, Helper, Comforter, and Intercessor. He will teach us (cf. Jn. 14:26) to testify about Jesus (cf. Jn. 15:26).
On the other hand, by Johannine reference to Jesus as ‘Advocate’, we are made to realise that though physically unseen by us, Jesus will continue to mediate for us in the glory of the Father. Despite his leaving, he will not be apart from us. If we keep his word we will be drawn into the love of the Father and the Son.
Hence, we draw comfort from the fact that Jesus is now with the Father. We will have the gift of peace because we have divine comforters, guides, and intercessors from our two ‘Advocates’ (cf. God’s Word: Daily reflections 2019 – May 26). Peace is his final gift to us, a peace that the world cannot give.
One essential question for us to ponder now might be: How possible is it to speak of peace in the midst of all the tragedies and horrors we currently face in our world today? Jesus spoke those lovely words about peace during the Last Supper. It was a strange time to talk about peace. Everything was in turmoil around him. His enemies were on the way to arrest him, death was around the corner. How was he able to speak about peace at such time? Because peace is fundamentally communion with God. And Jesus was in perfect communion with God. Peace designates right relationship with God and with others. A vital component of peace is righteousness. Peace results when we trust in God, and when the desire to please him is the dominate thing in our life. This is something we can have even in the midst of turmoil, conflict and unresolved problems.
Jesus offers his peace to us too. The peace he offers is not the peace to escape from reality. It is something so deep, something independent of outer circumstances. We may be wounded, battered, and tempted, we may find life to be a ‘trail,’ but with the divine ‘Comforters’ – the Lord Jesus and the Holy Spirit – by our side, we shall not be afraid. For if God is with us, who can be against us?
Fr Odinaka Nwadike