Pentecost Sunday, May 20, 2018

John 15:26   “When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. 27 You also are to testify because you have been with me from the beginning.

John 16:12   “I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. 13 When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. 14 He will glorify me, because he will take what is mine and declare it to you. 15 All that the Father has is mine. For this reason I said that he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
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The bible texts chosen for Ascension and Pentecost reflect a wider anxiety about and reflection on the transition from the experience of Jesus in his ministry to the time after the resurrection, the time of the Church.
The question being asked is “How will Jesus be with us now?” In the “negotiation” of this transition, the New Testament writers acknowledge the discontinuity (Jesus is risen, no longer available in the same way) and at the same time they seek to discern the continuity, within the new. In the new situation of mission and church, the Lord is with his followers but in a totally different, deeper and richer way. In John’s Gospel, the Farewell Discourse in chapters 14-17 deals with this search the Lord’s being “with us”, but not as he was before.

Kieran O'Mahony
Kieran's notes

The Spirit will lead you to the complete truth

“The Spirit of truth will lead you to the complete truth.” What a promise! Can you imagine what it would be like to live with an awareness of the complete truth about yourself, about God, about other people, about the meaning of life, and about our destiny? Elsewhere Jesus says “You will know the truth and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). Our lives are a journey towards the full truth. For the moment Jesus has many things to say to us, but they would be too much for us now.

Coming to a fuller grasp of truth can be both disturbing and exhilarating. That is why the full truth can be “too much for us now”. As we learn about ourselves, we come to be aware both of our worth and talents, but also of our limitations and less attractive qualities. Coming to a realistic picture of ourselves can be liberating and exhilarating, even if we do have to face things that we would prefer not to face. “The truth will set you free.” It is good to be free to be ourselves.

It is the same for growing in faith. Our picture of God changes and develops as we grow. Reading, study and prayer can lead us to a more comprehensive understanding of God. Familiar stories and words from the Bible come to take on a deeper meaning. The experiences of life, both difficult and joyful can lead us to a better understanding and appreciation of the truth of God being with us in life, with an accompanying sense of gratitude for this new insight. The God of Jesus is a God of love, and the Spirit can guide us through life to come to a greater trust in this loving God.

This work of the Spirit within us enables us to be witnesses to Jesus, as our behaviour moves from self-centredness to love in its many faces, as described by Paul in today’s second reading:
love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, trustfulness, gentleness and self-control.

We should not be discouraged when we see how much more we need to change to live consistently in this spirit. This transformation is a life-long journey. On Pentecost Sunday we are reminded that we do not face this task alone. the Spirit of God is with us. The Spirit of God works within us as individuals and within our faith communities, and so we pray: “Send forth your Spirit, O Lord, and renew the face of the earth.”