Virtues are formed by prayer. Prayer preserves temperance. Prayer suppresses anger. Prayer prevents emotions of pride and envy. Prayer draws into the soul the Holy Spirit, and raises man to Heaven. -- St. Ephraem: (Ephrem the Syrian was a deacon and theologian of the 4th century)
Gospel Text: (JN 14:23-29)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.
“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens,
so that when it happens you may believe.”
There is an important reference to the Spirit in the Gospel reading for today taken from John’s Gospel. On the eve of his death, Jesus reassures his disciples that even though he will be absent from them, he will send upon them the “Paraclete”—John’s unique term for the Spirit—who “will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
The power of the Spirit and the outreach of the Christian message to the entire world are fundamental themes of the New Testament. God’s Spirit is expansive and all-embracing; God’s mercy is not restricted to one race or one people or one viewpoint. Before God, all of us are equal.
The church today is very similar to the church 2000 years ago in that it is a very human community but yet one filled with the gift of the Spirit. That Spirit—the Paraclete—will keep reminding us, even in the midst of our divisions and debates, that we are called to transcend our differences and become one in Christ. This is a compelling quality of the Christian vision so necessary today when prominent—and loud—voices are fostering divisions and suspicion among the peoples of the world.