Summary: In John's gospel he refers to the Holy Spirit as the Comforter who will not leave us desolate. But when we look at different versions of the Bible different words are used, e.g. Advocate and Counsellor each having a different but significant meaning.
The Holy Spirit - our spiritual aid
John 14: 15-17
Have you ever lived life dangerously by taking a step into the unknown?
A step of faith, you were in a situation when you were not sure what to do, you had to make decision and had no idea about the consequences of your actions.
It was the kind of decision when you wished you had a crystal ball or other some way of looking into the future.
Perhaps the choice to stay where you are, - not really happy, earning just enough to live on, life is dull but safe.
OR to say enough is enough, I’m in a rut and need to get out of it but the path is paved with doubt and difficulties but the potential is there if you achieve.... But will I achieve?... a step of faith is needed.
Today’s gospel reminds us of what Christ has given to the Church, indeed to us the people of God, the Holy Spirit who will come to our aid and help us.
The word that John uses for the Holy Spirit was originally written in Greek and it’s the kind of word that is difficult to translate into English hence as you look at different Bible translations of this passage a different word is used.
The KJV and the NIV uses Comforter for the Holy Spirit.
But the word comforter only gives us a small but important insight into the many attributes and gifts that the Holy Spirit has to offer the people of God.
But as we all know the meaning of words changes over time; the word Comforter goes way back into the 16th Centaury and refers to someone who has enabled some dispirited person to become brave.
Someone who is essentially weak or introvert, to put on the strength of the Holy Spirit to overcome their inadequacies and become brave, to be strong.
But as St Paul says as soldiers of Christ we have to stand firm and be strong, we have to be brave and put on the whole armour of God, the essential weapon being the sword of the spirit.
We can only attack if we are brave, and we can only be brave if we have the appropriate weapons to fight the good fight - the sword of the spirit.
The Holy Spirit makes you brave, makes you strong to do things for Jesus Christ that you would never have even dream of.
Because you do it in the strength and the power of the Holy Spirit.
The problem with the word comforter is that today we associate its meaning to be solely concerned with someone who sympathises with us when we are sad.
Indeed the comforter does raise our spirits when we are low and miserable but to limit the work of the Holy Spirit to just these functions is sadly to belittle His many gifts and attributes.
We have a phrase which we often use, being able to cope with things.
In our step of faith we say I’ll cope come what may; I’ll come out of it, I’ll cope.
That is precisely what the Holy Spirit does for us it helps us to cope, it helps us to overcome our inadequacies and enables us to cope with life and its difficulties.
The Holy Spirit substitutes victory for defeat and will never let us down.
In Matthew’s gospel Jesus describes a situation we all dread, a situation where we have to defend our faith.
The Holy Spirit will be with us to make us brave, to stand up and fight for what we believe - to be able to cope with the situation.
‘ You will be brought to trial before rulers and kings for my sake, to tell the Good News to them and to the Gentiles.
When they bring you to trial, do not worry about what you are going to say or how you will say it; when the time comes, you will be given what you will say.
For the words you speak will not be yours; they will come from the Spirit of Your Father speaking in you ‘ Matt. 10:18-20
Yet another meaning or Bible translation refers to the Holy Spirit as the Helper; the Good News Bible, and yet others as the Counsellor; the Revised Standard Version.
Matthew in effect tells us that the Holy Spirit is our Counsel for the defence, He will fight our corner, He will give us all we need for our defence.
Yet another terms which also relates to this situation is Advocate, the New English, Revised English and Jerusalem Bibles use this term for the Holy Spirit.
The Advocate is there to plead our case when we are accused, the expert witness who is called in to give advice in some difficult situation.