In today’s Gospel, Jesus prepares his Apostles for his Ascension by teaching them about the Advocate who is to come. ”I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth,” (John 16:12-13). Jesus consoles his Apostles as he explains that it is better for them if he goes and they receive the Holy Spirit. The Apostles will be blessed to live in a new era where they will be filled with the Holy Spirit and will experience a deeper intimacy with God than ever before. New Testament accounts demonstrate how the Holy Spirit filled them to such an extent that they had the courage to preach and to be martyrs, they could perform miracles, they confounded some of the wisest scholars, and most importantly, they were filled with a persistent love that inspired many to encounter the all-loving God of whom they spoke.
After the Ascension (celebrated this Thursday or Sunday), the Apostles were filled with fear at the loss of their Savior. They could do nothing but hide and pray as they questioned what would happen next. After nine days, the Holy Spirit descended upon them granting them the gifts of the Holy Spirit and leading them out courageously to preach the Good News. The Holy Spirit, a divine Person who loved them intimately, entered into their hearts and transformed them. For each of us too, the Holy Spirit is inviting us to know him personally and intimately. Those nine days between the Ascension and Pentecost became known as the first novena. We too are invited to pray the Novena to the Holy Spirit beginning Friday so that we may also experience an outpouring of the Holy Spirit this Pentecost.