Written by Sr. Rosemary Finnegan, O.P.
Readings from:

We know the Holy Spirit by many names: ‘Advocate’, as Jesus says in today’s Gospel, ‘Comforter, ‘Helper’, and some of us used to say, “Holy Ghost”.  But a lot of ink has been spilled on another name for the Holy Spirit, that is, ‘Paraclete’ which is from the Greek, and has 2 root words:  para and kletos. Para means: ‘around, near, close by’, and kletos means ‘to call’.[i]  By combining these two words, ‘Paraclete’ is defined as ‘call together’.  And more simply translated, ‘Paraclete’, or call together, comes to mean "the Gatherer."  There’s your language lesson for today.

In our gospel reading, Jesus is promising to send the Holy Spirit, ‘the Gatherer’, to the apostles. He’s explaining that it is to their advantage that he leave their physical presence so that the Holy Spirit can be sent to help them continue his mission.  The Apostles were frightened, but this Holy Spirit, this ‘Paraclete’ would be present everywhere for them, gathering them into One Body, guiding and directing them so they could gather others into the fold.

May 23, the feast of Pentecost, is less than two shorts weeks away.  It’s a time to remember that the Holy Spirit came not only to the early believers in Jerusalem, but also to us.  This Paraclete is still gathering us into Christ, and helping us gather others into, and back to, Christ.

Do we feel the presence of this ‘Gatherer’ in our hearts?  Perhaps it’s a good time to reflect on what the Holy Spirit means to us.

  • First, the Holy Spirit comes to us in love, and on a mission of good will, mercy, joy and peace.
  • Second, The Holy Spirit gives us the mind of Christ and conforms our spirit to be more like Christ’s. Paul tells us that the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.  This is who Christ is, and this is who we are to become.
  • Third, the Spirit gives us supernatural boldness. Look what awful suffering Paul and Silas endured in the first reading.  Yet, they didn’t complain.  Instead, their boldness about their faith made a convert of the jailer.  This same Spirit will help us face difficult situations with confidence.
  • Lastly, the Holy Spirit calls us to serve, to act, to evangelize and gather others into the Body of Christ, and to do it with zeal and enthusiasm.

These days many of our family members, friends and neighbors are wanting and able to return to church but are wondering and hesitant about it. As we anticipate celebrating Pentecost, perhaps we can be that encouraging and loving spirit of the “Paraclete” for them and go gather them for God.

[i] | Image from Fr Lawrence Lew OP/Flickr