THE PROMISE OF “ANOTHER ADVOCATE!” HOMILY FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER (YEAR A). Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem PhD

another-advocate_orig

Once upon a time, something happened in a remote rural community in West Africa. The community had a rule that prohibits anyone from going to the farm on the fourth market day. One early morning, on a fourth market day, a middle-aged man came to the village square announcing that he saw a young man coming out from the farm.

People from the community gathered immediately and apprehended the young man. Without allowing him to say anything, a decision was made to kill him by burying him alive to placate the gods who might be angry with the community. The boy’s plea of innocence failed on deaf ears as nobody cared to hear him out.

Meanwhile, a large wild bird was in a tree watching what was going on. As the people were digging a grave to bury the young man, the bird began to shriek and to fly about furiously, but nobody paid attention to it. At that point, a man in the crowd, who was considered a lunatic in the community, started shouting and asking the people to pay attention to the bird but nobody took him seriously.

However, something very dramatic happened, and that shocked everyone! The man who accused the young man was standing under a coconut tree when suddenly a large coconut disengaged from its place and hit him on the head, and he felled down and died instantly. It was at that point that the people looked up and saw that the wild bird used it sharp peak to disengage the coconut fruit that hit the man on the head.

The people could not continue the unholy interment as they became apprehensive and decided to hear the young out. According to him, the dead man came to him very early in the morning and begged him to help him drop a piece of wood to a location beside the community farmland to enable him to take it to the farm next day.

While they were coming back after dropping the piece of wood, he asked him to hold a farming tool for him, and when they came close to the village, the man raised the alarm announcing that the young man was coming from the farm. Upon further inquiry, the young man disclosed that the dead man wanted him to sell a piece of land to him, but he refused as it was the only one he inherited from his father.

Following his narrative, the young man identified the bird on the coconut tree as the same bird he saw on a tree when he came to drop the piece of wood for the man. It was at that point that the people understood that the bird and the mad man came to speak for the boy’s innocence and even saved him from mob judgment and condemnation. They were for the young man handy “advocates.”

The word advocate originates from the Greek “parakletos” which means someone who publicly pleads, support, or counsels another person. Put in another way; an advocate is a spokesperson. An advocate helps and promotes another person especially from a situation that is deplorable in the eye of the public.

In the Gospel Reading today (John 14:15-21) our Lord says: “And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept because it neither sees nor knows him.”

From this statement, we understand that another “advocate” is an indication that there is a first advocate. The First advocate is Jesus Christ our Lord. The apostle John (1 John 2:1) writes:

My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin we have an advocate with the Father; Jesus Christ the righteous.

We might be curious to know why we need another advocate; does it mean that the work of the first advocate is not enough? Here we acknowledge the division of labor among the Three Persons of the Trinity; the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. We know that the Father Creates, the Son saves, and the Holy Spirit sanctifies. It is important to note that when each of the Persons is at work, the others are present. Let us leave this teaching to the Trinity Sunday.

“Another Advocate” the Holy Spirit comes to stay with us and like our Lord said, His presence would be forever. Does it mean that the Holy Spirit has not been there? He has been there and has been at work (Genesis 1:2) but unknown to the world as a person.

The Holy Spirit is another advocate. The work of the Holy Spirit includes: teaching us (Luke 12:11-12), guiding us (John 16:13), counseling us (John 14:26), empowering us (Acts 1:8) and also speaking for us especially when we lack words (Romans 8:26).

Our Lord Jesus Christ is our advocate before the court of heaven as he pleads for us at the right hand of God the Father (Romans 8:34). The Holy Spirit is the advocate that helps us in our faith journey here on earth; He helps us in our battle with the world. The advocate helps us to give fitting worship to God (John 4:24). Without this advocate in our lives, the work of the first advocate would not make sense. In fact, the coming of the other advocate; the Holy Spirit, confirms and concludes the salvific work of our Lord Jesus Christ. That is why the Pentecost ends our Easter celebration.

The Liturgy of the word today takes our attention to the second advocate. We are invited to focus on the person, power, and position of the Holy Spirit in our lives as we draw nearer to the celebration of the feast of Pentecost.

In the Gospel we read, our Lord said that the world could not accept him because it neither sees nor knows him. The word of God says that my people perish for lack of knowledge (Hosea 4:6). Lack of the deep knowledge and appreciation of the Holy Spirit is killing our world today. When the Holy Spirit; the other advocate, is absent from our lives, we suffer from the destructive patterns of our accuser; the devil (Rev. 12:10).

As we walk through the Sixth Sunday of Easter and get closer to the celebration of the feast of Pentecost, let us continue to pray for the impactful and transforming presence of the other advocate in our lives. May the Holy Spirit continue to be your advocate in all the situations in your lives. Amen.

Fr. Bonnie.

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