Reflection: Easter 6, May 26th 2019.
This is the last week of Eastertide; Thursday of this week is Ascension Day. Ascension marks the last resurrection appearance and the transfer of Jesus’ presence and teaching to the Spirit. We will celebrate this further at Pentecost. The lectionary provides a choice for today’s Gospel reading, one of which is John 14.23-29. In this passage John prepares us for the work of the Spirit. I was once set a task to look up every reference to the Holy Spirit in the New Testament and comment on the meaning in context. It became clear that the Holy Spirit works primarily on our intellectual processes rather than on the more emotional experiences of life in the Spirit, although these are important too. John has this to say – ‘If someone loves me he will keep my word… He who does not love me does not keep my words; and the word which you hear is not mine but belongs to the Father who sent me. I have spoken these things to you while abiding with you; but the Paraklete, the Holy Spirit, which the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and he will remind you of all the things I have told you’. So the Holy Spirit will be sent to teach and to remind of the words of Jesus. The ‘words’ here refer to the whole teaching and events of Jesus’ life. John refers to the Holy Spirit as the ‘Paraklete’. The word means ‘one called alongside to help’, an advocate in the legal sense. But here it also highlights the work of preaching, described in the early Church as paraklesis. So in this passage the work of the Holy Spirit is teaching, reminding, preaching and showing us how we can show our obedience to Jesus. The Holy Spirit works through scripture and this is why we should read our Bible so that we are familiar with the Father’s words spoken through Jesus and through His Spirit.
Rev Dr Calum Gilmour