First Reading: Acts 16:11-15
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 149
Gospel: John 15:26-16:4
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. “I have told you this so that you may not fall away. They will expel you from the synagogues; in fact, the hour is coming when everyone who kills you will think he is offering worship to God. They will do this because they have not known either the Father or me. I have told you this so that when their hour comes you may remember that I told you.” (Jn 15:26-16:4)
In today's gospel, Jesus is encouraging His disciples by telling them that He is going to send to them the Holy Spirit who will guide them. He is warning them of the trials that they will face so that they will be prepared and so that they will not fall away. Now logic would tell us that when you start talking about all the negative aspects, that the disciples and anyone else would be less likely to follow and more likely to run away. How many of us in a job interview listening to the interviewer tell us about the job, saying things like "yeah you are going to be judged a lot" and "you are definitely going to be hurt, and most likely killed." I don't think that anybody would be like, "Sounds good, where do I sign up!" No, most of us would be running for the door.
So why did Jesus talk about some of the hardship that the disciples would face and the great sacrifice that would be required of them? It really was simply to prepare them. Logic would have us think that they would run away, but the reality is that when you tell a group of dedicated followers about the challenges that they will face, it doesn't make them run it makes them fight. I can still remember during my days of playing football, whenever we were about to come up against a really good team or a team that had a star athletes on there, the coaches would prepare us to face that team. They would tell us all the things that they did well, why other teams lost to them, and how we couldn't hold anything back. It didn't make us scared, it made us fight that much harder during the game. It is truly amazing the resiliency that can come about when you have a group of dedicated followers who are fighting for a common cause.
So the words that Jesus gave to the disciples are the same words for us. He is telling each of us that our life is not going to be all puppies and rainbows. We are going to go through some hard times, we are going to fell abandoned, scared, persecuted, pain and suffering. It is not easy, it will be difficult ... but we do not have to go through it alone. We have an advocate. The Lord sends us the Holy Spirit so that we may fight with the strength of the Lord, so that we can go through anything that this world may throw at us. We are given the Spirit of the Lord so that He can lead us to heaven. The Spirit is here to show us that we are never alone, that God is truly always with us.
This world is constantly attacking, may God give each of us the strength and courage to fight the battles He calls us to. Be prepared.
Father above, we thank you and praise you for this day. Lord, you have blessed your children so much, thank you for your great love and mercy. We praise you for all that you do and all that you are. Help us to never stray from your loving care. We ask this all through Christ our Lord. Amen.