The role of the Holy Spirit is the least clear of the three persons of the Trinity. We generally regard the Father as the presiding member of the Trinity who oversees everything and who brings all that exists into being. We see him as the lawgiver and the maker of heaven and earth and of all things visible and invisible.
The Feast of the Ascension marks the completion of Christ’s work of salvation. Having accomplished his mission on earth Jesus returns to his rightful place at the side of the Father. Even though he no longer lives with us the work of God continues in the world with the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on the Apostles which we celebrate in a week’s time.
We continue our reading from the Farewell Discourse as recorded in the Gospel of John which we began last week. Today we hear some very reassuring words from Jesus. He tells us that he will ask the Father to send us an Advocate to remain with us. This is, of course, none other than the Holy Spirit who will continue to lead and guide us and give us comfort in times of distress.
The Gospel text we are presented with today is the opening passage of what we call the Farewell Discourse in the Gospel of John. At the Last Supper the feet of the disciples have been washed, Judas has left the room and Jesus has predicted Peter’s denial; at this point Jesus begins a long discourse which extends over four chapters.
The first reading and the Gospel text chosen for our Sunday liturgies are usually connected in some way but today this does not at first sight appear to be the case. We are given an extract from the speech Peter made to the crowd on the Day of Pentecost in which we are told that about three thousand were added to their number. The Gospel text is the first part of chapter ten of John’s Gospel telling us about the Good Shepherd.