6th Sunday of Easter – Year A
John 14:15-21

  • Reading 1 – Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
    Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them…There was great joy in that city.
  • Responsorial Psalm – Ps 66
    Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
  • Reading 2 – 1 Peter 3:15-18
    Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope,
  • Gospel – John 14:15-21
    If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always.


The Holy Spirit reminds us
how to access the Father
Pope Francis

As He says farewell to His disciples (see Jn 14:15-21), Jesus gives them tranquility, He gives peace, with a promise: “I will not leave you orphans” (v. 18). He defends them from that pain, from that painful feeling of being orphans. In today’s world, there is a great sense of being orphaned: many people have many things, but they lack the Father. And in the history of humanity, this has repeated itself: when the Father is missing, something is lacking and there is always the desire to meet, to rediscover the Father, even in the ancient myths. We can think of the myth of Oedipus, or Telemachus, and many others: always in search of the Father who is missing. Today we can say that we live in a society where the Father is missing, a sense of being orphaned that specifically affects belonging and fraternity.

And so Jesus promises: “I will ask the Father and He will give you another Paraclete” (v. 16). Jesus says, “I am going away, but someone else will come who will teach you how to access the Father. He will remind you how to access the Father”. The Holy Spirit does not come to “make us His clients”; He comes to point out how to access the Father, to remind us how to access the Father. That is what Jesus opened, what Jesus showed us. A spirituality of the Son alone or the Holy Spirit alone does not exist: the center is the Father. The Son is sent by the Father and returns to the Father. The Holy Spirit is sent by the Father to remind us and to teach us how to access the Father.

Only with this awareness of being children, that we are not orphans, can we live in peace among ourselves. Wars, either small ones or large ones, always have a dimension of being orphans: the Father who makes peace is missing. And so when Peter and the first community respond to the people regarding why they are Christians (see 1 Pt 3:15-18), it says: “do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear” (v. 16), that is, the gentleness that the Holy Spirit gives. The Holy Spirit teaches us this gentleness, this tenderness of the Father’s children. The Holy Spirit does not teach us to insult. And one of the consequences of this feeling like orphans is insulting, wars, because if there is no Father, there are no brothers, fraternity is lost. They are – this tenderness, reverence, gentleness – they are attitudes of belonging, of belonging to a family that is certain of having a Father.

“I will pray to the Father and He will send you another Paraclete” (Jn 14:16) who will remind you how to access the Father, He will remind you that we have a Father who is the center of everything, the origin of everything, the one who unites everyone, the salvation of everyone because He sent His Son to save everyone. And now He sends the Holy Spirit to remind us how to access Him, of the Father, of this paternity, of this fraternal attitude of gentleness, tenderness, and peace.

Let us ask the Holy Spirit to remind us always, always about this access to the Father, that He might remind us that we have a Father. And to this civilization, with this great feeling of being orphaned, may He grant the grace of rediscovering the Father, the Father who gives meaning to all of life, and that He might unite humanity into one family.

17th May 2020


Even today’s Gospel, like last Sunday’s, is taken from the first of three farewell speeches given by Jesus at the Last Supper.

The disciples have understood that Jesus is leaving them. They are sad and they ask themselves how they could continue to be united and to love him if he is gone.

Jesus promised not to leave them alone, without protection and guidance. He said that he will pray to the Father, and he will “send the other Paraclete” who will always be with them (v. 16). It is the promise of the gift of that Spirit that Jesus possesses in fullness (Lk 4:1,14,18) and will be infused into the disciples.

Jesus clarifies (vv. 15,17) that the Spirit could be received only by those who are in accord with him, with his plans and his works of love. The world cannot receive it.

What is this world to which the Spirit is not destined? Are they the pagans, those far away who do not belong to the group of the disciples or the members of other religions?

The world as Jesus intends it, is not the persons, but those parts in the heart of the person—of each person—wherein darkness, sin, and death reign. Where there is hatred, concupiscence, unregulated passion, there the world is present with its spirit contrary to that of Christ’s. Paul reminds the Corinthians of it as they allowed themselves to be guided by human wisdom.

The Spirit is called by two names. He is called the Comforter (Paraclito) and the Spirit of truth. These are the two functions he exercises on believers.

Comforter is not a good translation of the Greek ParakletosParaclete is a term taken from the legal language and indicates the one who is called to be beside.

In ancient times, there was no establishment of lawyers; each defendant had to defend himself, trying to bring witnesses to exonerate the allegations. It happened sometimes that some, though not guilty, was unable to prove his innocence or that, despite having committed the crime, deserved forgiveness. For him, there remained one last hope: that in the midst of the assembly there would be a person honored by all for his moral integrity. That blameless person, without uttering any word, would get up and would go to place himself at his side. This gesture is equivalent to an acquittal. No one would have dared to ask for more condemnation. This “defender” is called the “Paraclete” that is, “one who is called to the side of another who finds himself in trouble.”

The meaning of this first title is, therefore, protector, helper, and defender.

Jesus promises his disciples another Paraclete, since they already have one, he himself as John explains in his first letter: “My little children, I write you these things so that you may not sin; but if anyone does sin, we have a Paraclete by the Father’s side: the righteous Jesus Christ” (1 Jn 2:1).

And Jesus is the Paraclete inasmuch as our advocate with the Father not because he defends us from his wrath, provoked by our sins (the Father is always on our side, as Jesus). He protects us against our accuser, our opponent, and against sin. The enemy is sin, and Jesus knows how to refute and reduce it to impotence.

The second Paraclete’s task is not to replace the first, but to fulfill a mission. In fact, he is sent together with Jesus who “returns” in the midst of his own (v. 18). Jesus is not going away; he simply changed the type of presence, no longer the physical one, but that of the Risen One. He is staying with his disciples is a new way, infinitely more real—even in its invisibility—more lasting and unlimited than before.

The Spirit is the Paraclete because he helps the disciples in their battle against the world, that is against the forces of evil (Jn 16:7-11).

John reminds the Christians of his community of this truth so that, in the midst of the difficulties of life, they would not be discouraged, despaired, and would not lose their serenity, peace of heart and joy. The disciple believes in the assistance of the Spirit. He is not afraid, nor broken down even when he has to admit that there are still so many spiritual miseries, frailties, and so many evil inclinations. He is convinced of the strength of the Paraclete and he is sure not to be defeated.

The second title is the Spirit of truth, which sets out another function of the Paraclete.

His work in the service of truth is expressed in various ways.

Let’s start with the simplest. We all know what happens when a story goes from mouth to mouth. It is subject to deformations, is altered to such an extent as to become unrecognizable.

The message of Jesus is for all people. It must be preached until the ends of the world. Who assures us that it won’t be corrupted, won’t undergo deviant interpretations? Humanly speaking, the venture seems desperate. However, we have the certainty that all will be able to attain from the pure source of the Gospel. It is because in the Church, charged to announce it, the force of the Spirit of truth promised by Jesus is working.

His service to the truth is not limited to this part that we could call negative. He does not impede only errors that are introduced in the transmission of the message of Christ. He performs another positive function: he introduces the disciples to the fullness of the truth.

There are truths that Jesus has not explicitly dealt with or that has developed in all its details because the disciples were not able to understand them (Jn 16:12-15). He knew that, along the centuries, there would arise new problems and questions. Where would authentic responses, conformed to his thoughts, be found?

Jesus promises the intervention of the Spirit also at this level: He is charged to introduce the disciples to the discovery of the whole truth. He will not say anything new or contrary to him. He will help to capture his message to the very end, until the very last consequences.

The duty of Christians is to remain open to the impulse of the Spirit who always reveals new things. He is, by his nature, the one who renews the face of the earth (Ps 104:30).

It is a sin against the Spirit (and very grave indeed cf. Mt 12:31) to oppose the renewal, to refuse the innovations that favor the life of the community, that bring people closer to Christ and to the brethren, that increase the joy and peace, that help people to pray better and free the heart from useless fears.

Those who stubbornly remains attached to already obsolete and worn out religious traditions, who are not diligently given to the study of the Word of God, who do not accept updating of rites, formulae, liturgical gestures, who give old answers to new problems, who do not accept with joy the discovery of biblical exegesis, they place themselves in opposition to the Spirit of truth.

For the evangelist John, the term truth has a more profound meaning. It indicates God who manifests himself in Jesus. He is the truth (Jn 14:6) because the total revelation of God is realized in him. To refuse him is a lie; it is a choice contrary to his truth. Satan, the enemy of the truth, the father of lies (Jn 8:44) is all that far from Christ.

The Spirit acts in an opposing way: he introduces the truth, acts in the intimacy of each person and does so, freely; he tends to choose Christ and adheres to his plans. He is like the wind that brings up towards upper grounds and brings in an irresistible way to salvation.

It is difficult to imagine that the impulse of the Holy Spirit fails to introduce everyone in truth. Why doubt, however tenuous that doubt is, that this divine impulse towards life is stronger than the world, still present in each of us?

Fernando Armellini
Italian missionary and biblical scholar

The Spirit gives life, joy and urges on to Mission
Fr. Romeo Ballan mccj

In the discourse-conversation-prayer of Jesus with the disciples after the Last Supper (Gospel) there is a strong atmosphere of leave-taking: emotions abound, as do memories, questions, fears… But what stands out above all is the reassuring promise of the Master: “I will not leave you orphans; I shall come to you” (v.18); the Father will give you another Advocate… for ever” (v.16). Jesus promises the Spirit as a gift to those who pray (Lk 11:13), as an Advocate and Consoler (Jn.16:7-11), the Spirit of the whole truth (Jn.14:17; 16:13), forgiveness of sins (Jn.20:22-23), the Spirit that calls out in us “Abbà, Father!” (Rm 8:15)… In short, The Spirit promised by Jesus is a true “Advocate” (v. 16): a word used in legal practices to indicate ‘a person called to stand by someone’ as a rescuer, a protector, a defender. All in all, a kind presence, an intimate and affectionate companionship.

He is the Spirit of Love in the heart of the Trinity and in each of us; the new principle of moral life in the observance of the commandments. Indeed, it is not enough to present the moral law for this to be observed. Law in itself is like the road sign: it shows the right direction, but it is unable to move the car: an engine is needed. Jesus, besides showing us the way, gives us his strength, his Spirit, to move towards the goal. All this for love! One can observe the law with a different spirit: as an expression and a sign of love! Ingratitude andreciprocity (v. 21).

The same Spirit animates the mission of the disciples to all nations, as is seen at Pentecost, and to the ends of the earth (cf. Acts 1:8). It is perceived in the founding of the Church in Samaria (1st Reading), the second community after Jerusalem. It will be followed by Antioch and others. The beginning of the community in Samaria is marked by the presence of a Deacon, Philip (v. 5): he arrives there while fleeing from the persecution following the death of Stephen. Philip preaches about Christ, is listened to with interest, he works miracles, he baptises and there was “great rejoicing in that town” (v. 8). These are the initial signs of a community of faith, which will then receive the seal of the Apostles Peter and John with the gift of the Holy Spirit (v. 17). Also the founding of the Church in Antioch has similar beginnings, through the work of simple Christians scattered after the same persecution: the apostles will arrive later.

The history of the missionary Church is full of similar happenings: almost all the Christian communities start with the work of a layperson, a catechist, a family, a group of religious, a group of lay people (Legion of Mary or something similar)… The priests and the bishop arrive only later with the sacraments of Christian initiation and ecclesiastical structures. An emblematic case is the beginning of the Church in Korea (XVIII Century): some laypeople from Korea, at their return from China where they had found the Christian faith and baptism, brought along with them Christian books and began to announce the Gospel of Jesus. The first priest from China and the first missionaries from France arrived in Korea only decades later.

The Church is a community of believers in Christ. Its members – like those to whom the first Letter of Peter is addressed (2nd Reading) – are always ready with their answer for people who ask the reason for the hope that they have (v. 15). From the pages of Acts breathes the missionary freshness of the early Christian communities: a freshness and an ardour that become contagious, and cannot be hidden. With good reason it is said that “Christians are ridiculous when they hide what makes them interesting” (Card. Jean Daniélou). The Church of the Risen Lord is a community of missionaries. It carries with it a message of life, joy and hope to proclaim to all peoples, as the Vatican Council II states: “The community of the disciples of Christ is made up of people who, united as one in Christ, are guided by the Holy Spirit in their pilgrimage towards the Kingdom of the Father, and have received a message of salvation to offer to everyone” (Gaudium et Spes, 1).