By José Antonio Pagola.
Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples. He sees them sad and upset. Soon they won’t have him with them. Who can fill that void? Until now he has been the one who took care of them, defended them from the Scribes and Pharisees, sustained their weak and faltering faith, described for them the truth of God, and initiated them into God’s humanizing project.
Jesus speaks to them passionately about the Spirit. He doesn’t want to leave them orphans. He himself will ask the Father not to abandon them, to give them “another advocate” that will “always be with them”. Jesus calls this advocate “the Spirit of truth”. What is hidden behind these words of Jesus?
This “Spirit of truth” mustn’t be confused with a doctrine. This truth won’t be sought in theologians’ books or in the hierarchy’s documents. It’s something much more profound. Jesus says that this Spirit “lives in us and is within us”. This Spirit is encouragement, power, light, love…that reaches us from God’s ultimate mystery. We must welcome this Spirit with a simple and trusting heart.
This “Spirit of truth” doesn’t change us into “owners” of the truth. It doesn’t come so that we impose our faith on others, or control their orthodoxy. It comes so that we aren’t left as orphans of Jesus, and invites us to be open to Jesus’ truth: listening, welcoming and living his Gospel.
Nor does this “Spirit of truth” make us “keepers” of the truth, but witnesses. Our task isn’t to argue with, oppose or overthrow adversaries, but to live the truth of the Gospel and “love Jesus, keeping his commands”.
This “Spirit of truth” is within each one of us, defending us from all that can separate us from Jesus. It invites us to open ourselves with simplicity to the mystery of a God who is the Friend of life. Whoever seeks this God with honesty and truth isn’t far off from God. Jesus said on one occasion: “Everyone who is of the truth, listens to my voice”. That’s true.
This “Spirit of truth” invites us to live in the truth of Jesus in the midst of a society where all too often lies are called strategy, exploitation is called business, irresponsibility is called tolerance, injustice is called status quo, arbitrariness is called freedom, lack of respect is called sincerity….
What meaning does Jesus’ Church have if we allow ourselves in our communities to lose this “Spirit of truth”? Who can save it from self-deception, dead ends, generalized mediocrity? Who will announce the Good News of Jesus in a society that is so in need of encouragement and hope?