Week 5 Day 5: Accompanied by the Spirit
“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.”
Accompanied by the Spirit
If I’m honest, it’s a real challenge to abide in Christ for the long haul.
-Br. Geoffrey Tristram
If I’m honest, it’s a real challenge to abide in Christ for the long haul. There are powerful forces, which may draw me away from Christ, take me along paths that don’t lead to life. But we’re not on our own, for God has sent us the Holy Spirit, this extraordinary gift. And these words from John’s gospel: “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 will be in you.”
The gift of the ‘advocate’, in Greek the word is parakletos, which can also be translated as the “comforter.” And many people like that, the sound of a ‘comforter,’ but I’ve almost invariably found the work of the Holy Spirit not at all comfortable, but actually very challenging to me in my life. There’s a great image in the Bayeux tapestry, that great tapestry of the Norman conquest of England by William the Conqueror, and there’s one panel which features Bishop Odo, William’s brother, and there’s an image of him with what looks like a great spear in his hand and he’s prodding the man in front of him with the spear. And underneath it, it says, “Bishop Odo comforts his men.”
I found that in many ways, the Holy Spirit is so often like that in my life. The spirit prods me into action, prods me when I’m falling asleep and prods me to become more authentic, because this is the ‘Spirit of Truth’ who wants me to live a more truthful and authentic life in Christ.
So maybe you might want to reflect today about your own lives. Where, perhaps, have you experienced, and maybe today, are experiencing God, the Holy Spirit, the Comforter, prodding you into action, challenging you? And secondly, what new truths are you being called to embrace today?
We invite you to share your answer in the comments below or using #MeetingJesus
I am editing a book that will be sold to benefit the mentally ill. The Holy Spirit brings homeless people I see to my mind to pray for them. Each time I see a homeless person I remember the words from Sandi Patti’s song: In Heaven’s Eyes: “when life goes on and no one bothers, heaven feels the pain.” Yesterday, I was in Rite Aid and a homeless woman was sitting near the pharmacist sleeping with the bag of her prescription on her lap. She needed care and a change of clothes. I paused to pray over her not wanting to wake her, she opened her eyes and looked at me and I saw Jesus looking into my eyes as she said “Hello.” That hasn’t happened to me since I worked with Mother Teresa and the lepers in Calcutta looked up at me. In Calcutta at first I thought it was the heat and diesel fuel on the street effecting me.
The homeless woman went back to sleep and I begged God to help her.I was really effected by her. My mother and my aunt are up in years and need care. I do what I can to help them. Last night when they were praying I told my mom about the homeless woman in RiteAid. She prayed for the woman. In the past I organized homeless events and Saturday I stopped by a community meal that feeds the homeless to support the effort. My focus right now is to help my mom. I will never forget that homeless woman. I had no money to give her but when she looked up at me I saw the love of Jesus pouring out of her eyes. I was unraveled the rest of the day. It was such a powerful experience in the Holy Spirit. I did not share it with others because they were too consumed with functioning to stop to share so you are getting the experience in my comment. It was God showing me Himself from the forgotten and hurting. I knew it. It still has me deeply effected.
S P I R I T
Holy S pirit
P rod me
I nto who I am called to be
R eceive my confession
I n Christ, I must be authentic
T oday, allow the Spirit of Truth to guide me, forevermore
Holy Spirit you push me everyday, you are my conscience, my heart and soull t
O Lord God,
Through the Holy Spirit you work in mysterious and wonderful ways in my life, ways that are beyond my rational understanding. The Spirit of Truth, our Advocate, Comforter and Helper, the One who inspires and urges us to do your will and perform good works… enabling us to bear fruits, gives our existence a sense of meaning and purpose – Blessed are you Lord of the Universe who turns all things to our benefit in your glory.
Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God – have mercy upon me a sinner.
My mind is consumed with the events of last night. I believe that it was by the inspiration of the Spirit that I was prompted to stop my work in the office – and go to look out of the window to see if a storm was brewing in the sky… certainly there were spatters of rain and dark clouds forming. As I scanned around I saw that Br. X was attempting to jump from the other balcony… to kill himself. We all knew that Br. X has a disturbed mind, and we all had been working with him to resolve his issues and problems. But, perhaps, in many ways he has lost hope and faith in life – though I have prayed with and for him. As I saw him struggling with his life on the balcony I lost all sense of self-interest – my only concern was to save him. It was a strange sensation – I had only the absolute concern and care for another human being… and I ran down the corridor to alert the nurse on duty and stop this tragedy from happening… together we talked him down to safety and brought him inside with help from others. We saved his life – I believe with inspiration from the Holy Spirit.
We hope and pray Lord, that the Spirit will heal his wounds, his broken mind and give him peace – and communicate to him your love. Lord, now I see that with the power of the Spirit that we are capable of saving others as we ourselves have been saved, you have given us the power of light to face the challenges, terrors, and dark evils of the world – we are to institute good changes and bring an end to senseless violence, hatred and destruction – only by your power and will can we overwhelm, rise above and be victorious! We too, by the power and promptings of the Spirit become comforters – we can heal, save and bring compassion and reassurance to the sick, dejected and forlorn.
I pray for all those without hope in the world, those who are depressed and hurting, those who are lost and feel that life has no meaning… Lord Jesus Christ please descend in power of light and love upon them and bring them new life… let them awake from their darkness into a new dawn.
Pax Christi – David
Thank you, David. The Lord of the Universe bless you. The Holy Spirit works in unexpected and miraculous ways if only I listen. Christina
Thank you and the Lord. May we all cultivate the art of listening to the inspiration of the Spirit!
God bless you,
To David: I believe the Holy Spirit gives promptings, urges, suggestions at times. I believe it to be so in your case. You arose and went to the window at exactly the right time to observe your neighbor getting ready to end his life. had you gone minutes later, it would have likely been too late. Thanks be to our Lord that you obeyed the Spirit, not only by seeing, but also by acting. God bless you!
Thank you for reminding us of the Spirit’s work of “prodsding.” I am convicted not only to be authentic but also responsible in an interconnected world of climate change and irresponsible leaders.
I accept and love the Holy Spirit as a member of the Holy Trinity. However, I struggle to know the Holy Spirit as I do God and Jesus. I have a very clear and close relationship with Jesus and God and feel their presence with me throughout the day. I’m certain the Holy Spirit is alive within me but I have trouble separating him from God and Jesus. Perhaps, there’s no need to separate the Holy Trinity as they are one. The clear distinction between Jesus and God is perhaps the first step in recognizing the individuality of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is as close as my next breath. Breathe in, breathe out. Thank-you, Jesus for helping me to feel the Grace of the Holy Spirit.
Thanks for this beautiful commentary on the Holy Spirit. The word “comfort” or “comforter” means “with strength”–con forte. That’s why the Holy Spirit is not entirely “comforting”. We are not given “a spirit of timidity but of strength” says St. Paul. God’s strength, however, can be a comfort in adversity.
When I think of comforter, I think of a blanket from God to cover myself with God’s grace and mercy, warm and secure in God’s love.
I think that it is a challenge every moment to live a life that close to God, but I keep trying.
The major benefit (grace) of older years is the opportunity/need to live a slower life, and in slowing down, there is more time to take time to reflect, ponder, contemplate, talk with God, and try to listen to God. It is a long process, a life-time of process. It just goes deeper and deeper, in the scriptural readings, in the prayer life, in the contemplation of other’s needs, in the life changes of each of us, and in our growing closer to God so that we may be welcomed into the Kingdom of heaven, at last. There are so many surprises if we live life with patience and reflection. I keep working at it. That we are continually strengthened AND comforted is a good consolation, and that we will not be given more than we can handle as sustained by the Holy Spirit.
Doesn’t “comfort” come from the instensifier “Cum” and the root “fort” — strengthen? So “the Holy Spirit, the Comforter” is “the Holy Spirit, the [strengthener], rather than “the Holy Spirit” who helps us feel good?
“And also the Holy Ghost, the Comforter” — Howells’ Collegium Regale service Te Deum, and so many other musical settings, where “Comforter” can have both meanings.
I appreciate Br. Geoffrey’s honesty about the challenges. Although sometimes I know that the Holy Spirit is supporting me during the challenges, it doesn’t feel comfortable being prodded. Patience is the most difficult as I pray to be open to where the Spirit is trying to take me.
What a cracker! A comforting prod in the rear. Yup, that’s what it feels like sometimes BUT at other times it’s like being wrapped up in a soft towel and cuddled. Either way, He knows what I need.
Dear Br Geoffrey, Your words invariable speak deeply to me and they often offer a new perspective. Today, your reminding us that the life of prayer, love and service that Christ models and invites us to live, is the way to live fully, abundantly, authentically and truthfully was inspiring. Maybe focusing on this truth will prod/motivate/encourage me onward along the Way. Thank you.
I am reminded of the 23rd Psalm. “Your rod and your staff – they comfort me.” The combination of “strengthening greatly” and “giving solace” are a paradoxical but true combination. And it comes with prodding, whether spear or rod or staff. Perhaps I misinterpret the challenges in my life as purely negative, when they might be strengthening greatly, and ultimately giving solace.
Thank you for a powerful image of the “comfort” of the Spirit. Amen.
Thank you again for this Lenten study and reminder of our need to abide in Christ and to be sensitive and responsive to the Holy Spirit’s prodding. The Holy Spirit prods me by reminding me of scripture that has been “hidden in my heart” through years of hearing God’s word spoken in the church and at group and personal bible study. Today I am being prodded as I am on many days to “seek first His kingdom and His righteousness” by reading and meditating on His word and taking time to listen to His voice before rushing into my busy day. He also prods me to remember His words in John’s gospel “If you love me you will obey my commandments”. In this world of cheap Grace it is sometimes difficult to remember how much it cost Jesus to pay for our redemption. I don’t want to take my redemption for granted by continually doing things the Holy Spirit had clearly identified as sin in God’s word. I need and want to abide in Christ so I can obey His commandments. I also recognize the desire and willingness to obey is also a gift from the Holy Spirit. Thank you again for offering this daily guidance to bring us closer to Jesus.
Today, I am experiencing the Holy Spirit prodding me, challenging me, to show my weakness, my vulnerability; to be more transparent and less withholding about my feelings and struggles. This is frightening and, I hope, liberating.
Thank you Br. Geoffrey and to all who responded to this message that is so important to me today.
Thank you Brother Geoffrey.
I had not realized that John had recorded this statement of Jesus that the Holy Spirit is an advocate of truth beside and within me. This gives me more understanding of the nature of that Force. I must continue to take the time to listen to it and strive to draw strength from it in my daily life.
I looked up the origins of “comfort”…it is from Old French confort (noun), conforter (verb), from late Latin confortare ‘strengthen,’ from com- (expressing intensive force) + Latin fortis ‘strong.’ We get the word fortitude from the same Latin root. The sense ‘something producing physical ease’ arose in the mid-17th century.
Bishop Odo was imbuing William’s soldiers with an intense, strong force coming through him in the sense that they were on a form of crusade. Right and Truth were on their side (poor Harald was an infidel and out of luck)……..this though William, Odo and Harald were a from the same deeper Viking stock.
We are all from the same spiritual stock as Children of God and God has disembodied himself around and within us to give us the fortitude to live by His Commandments. Amen
The image of Bishop Odo ‘comforting’ his men in the Bayeaux Tapestry, and connecting that to the Holy Spirit, resonated with me this morning. I often need a bit of a prod to remind me to speak out against injustice or be the voice of those who have no voice- who are the ones in real need of comfort. Thank you again for these daily reflections and questions. As a bishop in the church I am delighted that so many of our people are using them this Lent. It’s wonderful to think about how we are all connected through the Word and Spirit of truth.
’ve found that the more truthful I am with God, myself and others, the more I enjoy life. When there aren’t secrets to be held, and lies to be covered up, I can look at each situation and encounter with clear vision, even stepping away to see what Jesus sees. It is the Holy Spirit that breathes in and breathes out within me, taking in God’s goodness and then spreading it out, hopefully like a contagious disease!!
I really don’t long to be comforted; I’d rather be prodded by the Spirit to be God’s ambassador in the world.
God “prods” us now as we are called to serve as primary caregivers for my in-laws, moving them to live near us, ensuring their care, and accompanying them in the last years of their lives. It is a daunting prospect, something that we never anticipated. We have very mixed feelings and don’t have a sense yet of how much our lives will change; it feels hard much of the time. Thank you, Geoffrey, for the reminder that we will be sustained by the Holy Spirit throughout.
Abiding in Christ for the long haul, as Brother Geoffrey writes, is a real challenge. Happily, God, the Holy Spirit, provides us with the prodding — a firm but confortable prodding — we need to overcome the challenge. What we are called to do is simply to heed the prodding.
We need to rely on God and we need to be humble enough to accept that.
At the present time we pray that justice may reign in the world and God’s Kingdom be seen.
Thank you Brother Geoffrey, you looked really authentic today as you shared your experiences!! When I read your heading (If I’m honest……) I thought, “This is going to be challenging” and so it proved. “How am I experiencing God and what new truths am I being called to embrace?” Wow!
Might the Holy Spirit be my concious reminding me of what I need to do and also those spur of the moments of good deeds I can do.
My parents loved God and that was more than enough for me. May all who have responsibility for the young come to know God and accept Him and share that with the next generation.