20 May 2009 Wednesday of the 6th Week of Easter
Acts 17, 15-22 - 18,1; Psalm 148; John 16, 12-15
In a way, Jesus tells His disciples that His departure is gain, not a lost. It will bring them momentary grief, but it will eventually turn into joy when the Spirit comes. Jesus tells us that the Paraclete is the Spirit of Truth and will be our constant guide. The Paraclete would be speaking through inspired preachers, writers like the evangelists, and generations of disciples of Jesus. He would speak what He hears from Jesus who receives it from the Father. “He hears” in the Gospel is a verbal form that places the Spirit simultaneously with God’s eternity and our now. So what He hears in eternity, He shares it in our chronological present time. The Spirit shares it to the disciples what He simultaneously hears from Jesus. Jesus thus will be speaking through the Spirit. Thus, it is gain because it enables Jesus to speak to us in our historical time until eternity.
The proof is that even without the earthly form of Jesus, miracles continue to happen. Paul and Silas were released from captivity but amazingly, their jailer and his whole household become converts. Just as Jesus converted people to believe in Him, so too, through the disciples, people believe in Jesus. Now, the Spirit taught Paul the approach they have to adapt in preaching to philosophers at the Areopagus. The Areopagus is the meeting place in Athens. Paul’s speech is different from his speech with the Jews. With the Jews, they argue from Scripture. But in Athens, Paul uses words, still from Scripture, but sounding like philosophy because he was preaching to Greek philosophers. He began from natural theology, meaning he used evidence from nature for the God who created it.
Second, Paul did not like the many gods in Athens, but to begin his speech, he praised the Athenians for being religious. And since Athens have many ‘unknown gods’ he used this image to set forth to the citizens that he was preaching about the unknown god, now known as Jesus.
Since we are temples of the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete is in us. We can therefore contribute to the conversion of others. We acquire our faith and values, not so much through teaching using words, but through the things we do and how we approach them: how we talk, how we treat others, how we dress; when we wash the dishes or go for walk, when we watch a movie and listen to music; where we go and what we like doing.
How do we witness the presence of the Holy Spirit in us? The Spirit of Truth urges us to speak truthfully; the Spirit of Understanding enables us to comprehend what we study but do we cooperate with the Spirit? The Spirit teaches us about an alternative way of living: now we are already environmentally aware. The Spirit of love urges us to have compassion not just to the people we love and care about, but also to the people who are distressed and alone. There are times when we feel the thug in our hearts to do and be good. Do we cooperate? Many say that the spirit is willing, but the flesh is weak. I don’t believe that: we are not weak, but we choose to be. We refuse to be strong, when we actually can. In many situations, all you have to learn is to say no.