[Homily. Mass of the Holy Spirit for ADDU College of Law. Based on John 16:7-14. Assumption Chapel June 28, 2018.]
We come together as the ADDU College of Law to invoke the presence and guidance of the Holy Spirit on all our labors during this new academic year. We labor to teach well; we labor to learn well. This year, we are grateful for the distinction that these labors have brought in the context of professional law education in the Philippines. But we gather here today conscious it is not only for renown that we teach, study and practice our profession of law. We labor in the Spirit. Today we ask that the Spirit of Truth, as the Lord promised, guide us unto all truth.
Our Gospel today is from the Last Supper discourse of the Gospel according to St. John. The death of the Lord is imminent. The atmosphere is solemn, if not somber, even sorrowful. In this context Jesus says, “…I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away, for if I do not go away, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you.” (Jn 16:7b). In speaking of “going away” he speaks immediately of his death. His death will take him away from his disciples. That is immediately sad. But in his dying, he brings death to dying and to the evil that is the origin of death, and so accomplishes the will of his Father, glorifying the Father as the Father glorifies him. That is not sad. Only in this going away, is he able to be present to us in an abiding way. “I will be with you always, to the end of the ages” (Mt 28:20b), he declared before ascending into heaven; his going away in ascension was but the consequence of his going away in death. But in this going away, he is promising his special, abiding presence. That presence is guaranteed in the Holy Spirit. This is the Advocate, whom Jesus promised the Father would send in his name to “teach you all things and remind you of everything that I have said to you” (Jn 14: 28).
As future lawyers, you might take special interest in or inspiration from the Holy Spirit. For He is the divine Advocate. He is the Advocate of Jesus and the Father manifesting God’s love for us in the world. “I will send Him to you,” Jesus declares, “And when he comes he will convict the world of sin and righteousness and judgement: of sin, because they do not believe me; of righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; of judgement, because ‘the ruler of the world’ has been condemned” (Jn 16:8).
The declaration is cryptic because the Greek word, elegzei, which is translated into “convict” is also translated as “convince”. The convincing is also a conviction; as those who are convinced find the truth, those who do not accept the truth are convicted.
The Advocate convicts the world of sin “because they do not believe me” Jesus says. It will seem that those who did not believe have come to victory in Jesus’ cruel death. It will seem that all that Jesus said and did about the Kingdom of God, of compassion and love, was defeated on the Cross. But the Spirit will come, Jesus promises, as a fruit of his Death and Resurrection, to convince the world of his resurrected Life and of his abiding Truth. At the same time, he convicts the world of sin, of the fact of sin, the fault of sin, the folly of sin, the filth of sin. In raising those who believe in Jesus from the darkness of sin, in leading them to the Light, it condemns those who in their disbelief remain in darkness and sin.
The Advocate convinces the world of righteousness, and in so doing convicts those who do not accept righteousness. The Advocate convinces us that righteousness comes only in Jesus Christ, “the Way, the Truth and the Life” (Jn 14:6), and so convicts those who in false righteousness convicted Jesus to death. It convicts those who in false righteousness continue in life to put Jesus to death, thinking that righteousness in life – meaning in life – comes not from the Cross but from a celebrated legal victory in injustice, a reputation of legal renown in being able to defend all manner of evil ones, or from the victory of eristics over truth.
The Advocate convinces the world of judgment. The Advocate convinces the world the perverse Prince of this world is judged. “Now is the time of judgment on this world, now the prince of the world will be driven out” (Jn 12:31). His power that had wrought so much evil is broken. At the same time, the Advocate convicts the world in just judgment; all those who have conspired and connived with the Evil one in the crucifixion of Jesus are condemned. All those who continue to this day in the rejection and murder of Jesus in our world through a spirit of pride, greed, avarice, power-hungriness, and hatred are convicted.
Because even lawyers in the highest places are vulnerable to sin, to disbelief in the wisdom of God, because even they are vulnerable to rejecting God’s righteousness through self-justification and intoxication with worldly power, because even they are vulnerable to judgement for connivance with the Evil One in the rejection of Jesus in our world today, we pray today for the Holy Spirit in your lives, that he continually mentor you in your belief, and guide you in your pursuit of meaningfulness, and preserve you from condemnation.
May the Spirit of the Risen Lord bless you this year, and as Jesus promised, allow living waters to flow from your hearts (cf. Jn 7:38), waters which refresh tired bodies and quicken spent spirits. In your profession centered on Jesus, may you be a source in the world of clarity and justice, solace and consolation, life and truth, no matter the cost. As the Advocate represents the Father and the Son, may you be advocates not only of legal justice but of God’s justice. Legal justice is based on the rational law of man. God’s justice is based on His law of Love manifested in the stupidity of the Cross. “For the message of the Cross is stupidity to those who are perishing,” Paul says, “but to us who are being saved, it is the power of God” (cf. 1 Cor 1:18, 23). In this Law the world is condemned; but if we believe in him, in this Law you and I are uplifted to eternal life.