The text of today would have read better and seamlessly if it moved from John 15:27 and connected to John 16:1. John 15: 26-27 seems a bit like an interruption of thought though one has to admit the importance of what Jesus says in those two verses. Yet it connects well with John 16:4b- 24. (Please read your Bible in order to understand this better)
Jesus has left the table of the last supper (14:31b) but we are not sure if he has left the room, for John 18:1 says, “after Jesus had spoken these words, he went out with his disciples across the Kidron valley to a place where there was a garden which he and his disciples entered.” During this interim period, he has taught them (and us) some of the most endearing teachings that have formed the heart of the Christian faith. Principal among them is the new commandment to love. He has called us to abide in his word, keep his commandments, be attached to the vine, declared that he is the way the truth and the life and in the immediate context told them that the world will hate them because they love Him.
John 16:1 flows well from this context when Jesus says, “I have said these things to you to keep you from stumbling.” It is in this context that Jesus assures the apostles of the presence of the Holy Spirit whom he refers to as ‘the advocate’ (John 16:1) or as he says in John 14:16 “another advocate.” Right away we need to state that the advocate is Jesus that’s why he says I will send you ‘another’ advocate. Let me explain this to you. Jesus does not use the Greek word ‘heteros’ when he says ‘another’. Heteros would mean another of another kind. Rather he uses the word ‘allos’ which means another of the same kind. So, there is no need to think that Jesus is sending us some ‘other person.’ Everything the Holy Spirit does is consistent with the testimony of the nature of Jesus. His job is to tell us, and to show us, who Jesus is. If spiritual things happen that are not consistent with the nature of Jesus, it isn’t the Holy Spirit doing it.
In any case, Jesus has told us that the advocate will remain with us forever (John 14:16) and that the advocate is the ‘spirit of truth’ (John 14:17). This ‘spirit of truth’ is unknown to the world as it does not see or know him. Remember that in the Gospel of John the ‘world’ (Greek: kosmos) is referred to as the realm opposed to God or the ‘darkness in the world.’ Hence the darkness cannot see the light because of the choices it makes. Jesus has also told us the advocate will ‘teach us everything’ and ‘remind us of all that Jesus has said.” (John 14: 25 and 26). Now, once again, in the context of the persecution and hate that the apostles will face, Jesus reminds them of the advocate. This is the ’spirit of truth’ who will testify on Jesus’ behalf.’ Yet the task of the apostle is also important.
Jesus is emphatic, “you also are to testify (to the truth of the faith) because you have been with me from the beginning.” Sadly, this is often lacking in the Church today. For many, the faith has become a set of ritual check lists to perform in order to enter into heaven and even that seems to be fast eroding. Intrinsic to the faith is the holding fast and the proclamation of the faith even when they, “put you out of the synagogue (John 16:2) or Church committee (my interpretation).” The faith must be vigorously defended even if those within or without the Church may think that ‘when they persecute or kill you, they are doing a holy thing for God.’ (John 16:2). Jesus explains why the world and even misguided children of the light would do this. They will do this because (John 16:3) “they have not known the Father or me (Jesus)”
Jesus wants to assure us all that the Paraclete will not only strengthen the disciples for the trials that lay ahead, but will insure the eventual triumph of the Gospel message. You and I need not fear, because Christ has already overcome the world.
Fr. Warner D'Souza is a Catholic priest of the Archdiocese of Bombay. He has served in the parishes of St Michael's (Mahim), St Paul's (Dadar East), Our Lady of Mount Carmel, (Bandra), a ten year stint as priest-in-charge at St Jude Church (Malad East) and at present is the Parish Priest at St Stephen's Church (Cumballa Hill). He is also the Director of the Archdiocesan Heritage Museum and is the co-ordinator of the Committee for the Promotion and Preservation of the Artistic and Historic Patrimony of the Church.