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The Spirit jogging memories

In the latter part of today’s gospel Jesus promises the Holy Spirit will come, “The helper will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you” (v.26).

There are two functions of the Spirit. Let’s start from the first, to teach.

Jesus said it all; he did not leave out anything. Yet there is need for the Spirit to continue to teach. Jesus was not able to explain all the
consequences and the practical applications of his message.

He knew that in the history of the Church ever new situations would arise; complex questions would come up. Consider, for example, how many real problems now wait for a light from the gospel (bioethics, interreligious dialogue, difficult moral choices…).

Jesus assures us that his disciples will always find an answer to their questions, an answer according to his teaching, if they know how to listen to his word and keep themselves in harmony with the promptings of the Spirit present in them.

They must have a lot of courage to follow his instructions, because often, he will ask for unexpected and radical changes in direction. But the Spirit will not teach anything other than the gospel of Jesus.

In the light of other passages in scripture, this verb to teach acquires a deeper sense. The Spirit does not instruct as a teacher at school does when explaining something.

The Spirit teaches in a dynamic way, becomes an inner impulse, irresistibly induces the right direction, stimulates goodness, leads to choices consistent with the gospel.

“He will guide you into the whole truth,” Jesus explains at the Last Supper (John 16:13).

The second task of the Spirit is to remember. There are many words of Jesus that, despite being in the gospels, run the risk of being forgotten or left unmentioned.

It happens, especially with those evangelical proposals that are not easy to assimilate, because they are contrary to the common sense of the world.

An example: until a few years ago, many Christians still distinguished between just and unjust wars, and even spoke of holy wars, approved of the use of arms to defend their rights and supported the legitimacy of the death penalty for criminals.

Today, fortunately, those who think this way are fewer.

How is it that the disciples of Christ could have forgotten for so long the clear words of the Master prohibiting all forms of violence against brother and sister? Yet it happened.

Here then is the Spirit intervening to jog the memory, to remind the disciples of what Jesus said, “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… To the one who strikes you on the cheek…” (Luke 6:27-29). 

For many centuries Christians have been able to plug their ears to the calls of the Spirit, but today, those who try to justify the use of violence find themselves always alone and more pressed by the voice of the Spirit who… reminds them of the Master’s words.


Father Fernando Armellini  
Claretian Publications