The physical departure of Jesus isn’t the end of his revealing presence. In a relay race in athletics, the baton is passed from one runner to the next, but the actions take place in the same race. The inner dynamic of love within the Holy Trinity—Father, Son, and Holy Spirit—opens out in mission to embrace all of humanity and all of creation. The Father sends the Son. The Son asks the Father to send the Spirit in his name. Three divine persons, but still one mission, the same mission of love. It’s all about love among the persons of the Trinity, expanded to include us and all of creation. Significantly, the promise of the Holy Spirit follows immediately upon the command to love one another as Jesus loves us.
Jesus describes the Spirit as the one who also communicates truth. Sophia Spirit is the ongoing presence of the revelation of God in the world. But that revelation is received and understood only by disciples of Jesus. Alongside believers is a world of unbelief, a world that cannot recognize the Paraclete. Only those who are part of the world of Jesus, who are open to his revelation, are also open to the abiding presence of love and truth in the Spirit.
As Paraclete, the Spirit’s role is twofold. First, its role is akin to that of a legal representative or advocate in a court of law. It is a forensic function, defending disciples accused of being just that: disciples who follow Jesus and the way of his gospel. There is a second meaning: as conveyor of liberating truth, Paraclete also means the one who comforts and consoles. Thus, the word means both “advocate” and “comforter.”
Another role of Sophia Spirit is teacher, as when the Spirit brings to remembrance all that Jesus said and did. The teaching of the Holy Spirit calls to mind the words and actions of Jesus, taking them deeper into the memory and consciousness of the disciples who live in the in-between time.
There is nothing superficial about bringing to remembrance. The Spirit does not act like an internet search that we employ when we’ve forgotten some detail or other, or a spouse to whom you frantically turn when you’ve forgotten the name of someone who is approaching you. Spirit-given memory is not a cerebral memory boost, or “memory on steroids.” Biblical “remembering” is more profound than that. By the grace of the ever-abiding Holy Spirit, disciples of all generations do more than simply remember the life of Jesus as a historical curiosity. In a real and true way they participate in its salvific meaning. It becomes their spiritual DNA.
Adapted from Become Love: Gradual Growth and Transformation from John to Francis,
Fr. Larry Kaufmann, CSsR (a Redemptorist Pastoral Publication, Liguori Publications, 2019, 719713).