The Paraclete, our sure defense

May 15, 2020

The Pastor's Page

Pentecost will be here in two weeks, the celebration of the descent of the Holy Spirit upon the apostles. In this week’s gospel Jesus promised the coming of the Holy Spirit. He said that he would ask his Father to send the Advocate (Jn 14:16) and added that the Father would send it in his name (Jn 14:26). Jesus would also send the Holy Spirit himself (Jn 15:26; 16:7).

The Greek word that Jesus used for the Holy Spirit was parakletos, translated by the Revised New American Bible as Advocate, but because the word is so rich symbolically it sometimes is left untranslated and rendered Paraclete in English.

In common Greek, the word parakletos is a legal term that usually refers to a defense attorney. John explained that Jesus is our Advocate before God (1 Jn 2:1), the one to plead our cause. The Holy Spirit does likewise. The Paraclete is our sure defense.

According to this metaphor, the sinner is in criminal court, on trial before the judgment seat of God, charged with a lifetime of offenses and guilty on all counts. The Paraclete, matchless in brilliance and wisdom, is the sinner’s defense attorney. The Paraclete knows everything about the defendant, good and bad, exercises attorney-client privilege, holds everything in absolute confidence, and would never use the information against his client.

The Paraclete is the sinner’s Counselor, the one who knows the law (i.e., the commandments), the Judge (i.e., God), the court procedures, and the sentencing guidelines, and gives the sinner the best possible advice. The trial is a time of tremendous anxiety and worry for the defendant, and the Paraclete serves as Comforter and Consoler for the accused, the one who offers reassurance, encouragement, and hope. The Paraclete is the Advocate, the one who is seated next to the sinner in the courtroom of divine justice, a true friend and faithful companion who takes the sinner’s side, speaks on behalf of the sinner to the Judge, and does so more effectively than if the defendant was speaking for himself.

The Paraclete is the master litigator and eloquently cites mitigating circumstances, explains the sinner’s good intentions, provides a comprehensive list of the good deeds the sinner has done, adds a second list of acts of penance performed, and reminds the Judge of the sinner’s faith in him and love for him. Then the Advocate makes a plea for leniency for his client, asks that the sentencing guidelines be set aside, and that the defendant be granted a full pardon.

The Paraclete is truth and knows the truth, and the truth is this: God is kind and merciful, slow to anger, and rich in kindness (Joel 2:13); that God sent his Son into the world to save sinners (Jn 3:16); that God takes no joy whatsoever in punishment; that God wants each person to enjoy eternal peace with him in heaven for all eternity; and that for God, mercy outranks justice.

Then the Paraclete announced, “The defense rests.” The case did not go to twelve people, a jury of the sinner’s peers, all sinners themselves, but to God alone who is all holy. The Paraclete had provided a sure defense. The Son had died on the Cross for the sinner’s salvation. After due consideration the Judge read the final verdict: “Come, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world” (see Mt 25:34).

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About Father Michael Van Sloun

Father Michael A. Van Sloun is the pastor of Saint Bartholomew of Wayzata, MN. Ministerial interests include weekly Bible study, articles on theological topics, religious photography, retreats on Cross spirituality, and pilgrimages to the Holy Land, Italy, Greece and Turkey.

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