The Presence of the Holy Spirit

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Today we hear that all who believed in Jesus— Jews, Gentiles, and Samaritans alike—were sustained by the presence of the Holy Spirit in their midst.

In the Gospel reading, which continues Jesus’ farewell discourse from last Sunday, Jesus tells the disciples about “another Paraclete” (often translated as “Advocate,” “Counselor,” or “Comforter”). In John’s Gospel account, Jesus was the first Advocate, sent from the Father in heaven. Jesus now reveals the second Advocate to his disciples as he prepares them for his suffering and death, Resurrection, and Ascension. The Paraclete is “the Spirit of truth” (John 14:17), the “Holy Spirit” (14:26), who represents the continuing presence of Jesus on earth among his disciples. Jesus assures the disciples, “I will not leave you orphans,” a promise fulfilled when Jesus ascends into heaven and the Holy Spirit descends onto the community of believers.

In the First Reading, we hear of Philip’s successful evangelization among the Samaritans. Luke tells us that Philip performed “signs” (exorcising demon-possessed people and curing those who were paralyzed or crippled). Because of this, the Samaritans listened to Philip as he “proclaimed Christ to them” and they were “baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.” As a result, Peter and John were sent to lay hands on the Samaritans so that they too would receive the gift of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete.

When Peter wrote his first letter to the Gentile churches of Asia Minor, the gift of the Holy Spirit was a visible sign and “reason for your hope.” The same Spirit that “brought to life” Jesus, was now present in their Gentile communities. Peter saw that the presence of the Holy Spirit fulfilled what Jesus promised to his disciples: “I will not leave you orphans.” Jesus remained fully present to all the Christians.

• How is the Psalm realized in today’s First Reading?

• How would you explain your reasons for hope in your faith?

• How have you experienced the Holy Spirit in your community lately?

(from: At Home with the Word, 2011)