Looking at some of the different images used to represent the Holy Spirit in preparation for Pentecost this Sunday, we come across one in particular that we need to focus on because it was given by Jesus himself.
In St John’s Gospel, Jesus speaks about sending the ‘Paraclete’. Here, we move beyond the natural symbols we looked at yesterday – fire, water and others – to begin to understand what the Holy Spirit is and does for us.
As Giuseppe D’Amore explains in Symbols of the Holy Spirit:
“The word literally means the one who is invoked (from para-kalein, meaning to call upon for help). Therefore it is helpful to translate it as advocate (ad-vocatus, called to someone), or defender, or even mediator, in that the function of the Spirit is as helper and intercessor. The Grreek name paraclete translated into our language becomes even more beautiful: consoler, joy-giver, ‘he who is close to us’ – as the Fathers of the Church put it. We hear it in the beautiful Sequence of Pentecost: ‘Thou in toil art comfort sweet; pleasant coolness in the heat; solace in the midst of woe.’ How true and beautiful are these words that traditionally comprise the evangelical name: Paraclete!”
Our helper, consoler, the source of our joy, this is what is offered to us this weekend. A defender that as Christ said, “Will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you” (John 14:26).
This feast day is also a great opportunity to remember and foster Christian unity. All those who follow Christ can trace their roots back to that Upper Room, and the Church calls us to remember those Christians who are suffering for the sake of their faith. Because as D’Amore points out:
“The Holy Spirit is in particular, the helper and defender of the Apostles and of Christians when they will have to face adversity and persecution. It is the Paraclete that will help them to teach ‘because when the time comes the Holy Spirit will teach you what you must say’ (Luke 12:12).”
The celebration shows us that it was the Holy Spirit that made the announcement of the Good News possible, so we can celebrate the fact that he has been working so tirelessly for 2000 years, and long may he continue to do so.
Symbols of the Holy Spirit is available from CTS priced £1.95.
Of related interest: