Whitsunday – Pentecost Sunday St. John xiv. 15
Let the words of my mouth, and the meditation of my heart, be always acceptable in thy sight,
O Lord my strength and my redeemer
The Promised Helper
Text: “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter, that he may abide with you for ever;”
To St. John there is only one test of love, and that is obedience. It was by his obedience that Jesus showed his love of God; and it is by our obedience that we must show our love of Jesus. St. John never allowed love to devolve into sentiment or emotion. Its expression is always moral and is revealed in obedience. I am sure we all know those who protest their love in words but who, at the same time, bring pain and heartbreak to those whom they claim to love. There are children and young adults who say that they love their parents, and yet by their actions cause them grief and anxiety. There are husbands who say they love their wives and wives who say they love their husbands, and yet their behavior brings pain to one another. I am reminded of a fellow I knew years ago who was the envy of all the wives in our social circle because he was always giving his wife flowers and other gifts. He appeared to be very attentive and caring; all the other wives wanted their husbands to be just like him. But all the guys knew he was a prolific cheater and the gifts were his way of relieving his guilty conscience. His actions were the opposite of what St. John is telling us about love being moral and obedient.
To Jesus love is not an easy thing and he does not leave us to struggle with Christian life alone “I will pray the Father, and he shall give you another Comforter”. Who is this Comforter? The ancient Greek text which was translated into English uses the word is parakletos (PAR-AK-LAY-TOS), which is really untranslatable to English. The Greek meaning is “someone who is called in”. It is the reason why the person is called in that gives the word its distinctive associations. The Greeks used the word in a variety of ways. It might be a person called in to be a witness in a court of law, or an advocate called in to plead the cause of someone charged with an offense that carries a serious penalty or an expert called in to give advice in some difficult situation. A parakletos (PAR-AK-LAY-TOS) is always someone called in to help in time of trouble or need. So Jesus is saying is; I am giving you a very difficult task and I am going to send you someone who you can call in to guide you as to what to do and thereby enable you to do it.
The English word comforter was at one time a perfectly good translation. John Wyclif was the first person to use it in his translation of the Greek text back in the fourteenth century. The word comforter comes from the Latin word fortis which means brave; and a comforter at that time was someone who enabled some dispirited person to be brave. Nowadays a comforter is most commonly thought of as someone who deals with sorrow and someone who sympathizes with us when we are sad. The Holy Spirit does that but he does a lot more than that. Today people often need help coping with things and that is also the work of the Holy Spirit. He takes away our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life. The Holy Spirit substitutes defeated living with victorious living.
Since we are talking about the Holy Spirit or Holy Ghost this is obviously not someone we can see. There is no lamp to rub and poof out pops the Holy Spirit ready to grant us three wishes. Calling on the Holy Spirit is actually even easier than that and there is no limit on how much help he will provide. Jesus gives us a clue as to how we can connect with the Holy Spirit when he says “I will pray the Father”. It is through prayer that we can call the Holy Spirit into our lives for help and guidance.
The Holy Spirit does not come into our heart without us inviting him in. And so we must ask in our prayers for him to come into our hearts and our lives, we must ask him for his help without expecting that he will solve our problems for us, rather understanding that he will guide us to an understanding of what we must do. We must be vigilant and recognize his help when it is presented to us. His help may come to us at any time and in any place, while we are praying, while we are sleeping or while we are talking to others about something totally unrelated. In other words he speaks to us in mysterious ways. A person who has eliminated or minimized God in their life never listens for him; and we cannot receive the Holy Spirit unless we wait in expectation and in prayer for him to come to us. We need to set apart some time amid the hustle and bustle of our daily lives to wait in silence for his coming. This can be during our Morning Prayer, noon time prayer, evening prayer or bed time prayer, these are all good times to ask for his help and wait in silence for his coming. Through prayer we show our love and obedience to God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost. Let us pray;
O ALMIGHTY God, who pourest out on all who desire it, the spirit of grace and of supplication; Deliver us, when we draw nigh to thee, from coldness of heart and wanderings of mind, that with stedfast thoughts and kindled affections, we may worship thee in spirit and in truth; through Jesus Christ our Lord. AMEN
And now unto God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Ghost; be ascribed all might, majesty, power and domination as is most justly due this day both now and forever; world without end. AMEN