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Thursday, July 4, 2013

Today’s Reading | John 14:15–19

“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.

“I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. (NRSV)


Reflection

In today’s text, part of the “Farewell Discourse” in John’s Gospel, Jesus tries to convey the unity between himself and the Father as well as reassure the disciples that they will not be left alone. Jesus’ sudden mention of the Advocate begins here and is not duplicated in other Gospels.

The Greek word parakletos carries a variety of nuances, so the Bible you use may show a different translation: Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, Helper, or Paraclete. To us, the word denotes God’s Holy Spirit. According to John, the mission of the Paraclete is to abide with Jesus’ followers after his death and resurrection, to live among those who follow Jesus’ teaching and example.

A quick Internet search brought up an unlikely hit: Paraclete Armor & Equipment located in North Carolina. They produce “custom-designed equipment for the specific needs of highly skilled and forward force members of the military and law enforcement communities.” Testimonials from soldiers in Iraq show Paraclete’s protective vests to be life-saving.

I am tempted to make some kind of connection between John’s Advocate and God’s protection, but the many nuances of parakletos do not include the role of physical defender. At the same time, a glance through the catalogue made me want to own some armor and equipment. I want to go out into the world prepared for the worst: bring it on!

But honestly, I don’t know what to think. Help me, God.


Prayer

Lord God, Jesus promised that your Spirit would live among us as a help and a comfort. I know that promise to be true, and I am so grateful. But sometimes my desire is for a weapon or the muscle of a boxer. Help me look to you for all my help and might and to walk in your way all the days of my life. Amen.


Written by Patty Jenkins, Director, Center for Life and Learning


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