Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
The Holy Spirit and the Church
But now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, ‘Where are you going?’ But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned. Jn 16,5-11
The story of salvation of the world and mankind is God’s work par excellence and he participates fully in it with the three persons who constitute him. In the Old Testament, he is engaged in the person of the Father who, as he works, announces through the prophets the future coming of the Son, who incarnated in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. When his work is coming to an end, he, in turn, announces the next coming of the Holy Spirit, with whom the time of the Church starts. In this third phase, the salvation of the world, which was achieved with Christ’s death on the cross resurrection, is fully realized. “It is better for you that I go – Jesus says in the Gospel today – For if I do not go, the Advocate [Holy Spirit] will not come to you, But if I go, I will send him to you” . This will happen on the day of Pentecost. Then Jesus adds: “And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned“.
These are three obscure verses that Pope John Paul II explains very well in the encyclical letter Dominum et Vivificantem (1986): “’Sin’, in this passage, means the disbelief that Jesus met among his people”, beginning with the citizens of Nazareth. It means the denial of its mission, which will cause people to condemn him to death. When later he speaks of “justice”, Jesus seems to have in mind that ultimate justice, which the Father will do him by surrounding him with the glory of resurrection and ascension into heaven: “I am going to the Father”. In turn, in the context of “sin” and “justice” thus understood, the “condemnation” means that the Spirit of truth will show the fault of the “world” as it condemned Jesus to death by the cross. However, Christ did not come into the world only to judge and condemn it; he came to save it. Making people aware of sin and justice has as its purpose the salvation of the world, the salvation of mankind. This very truth seems to be emphasized by the assertion that the “condemnation” only concerns the “the ruler of this world”, that is Satan. In the light of this explanation, it is our duty to open up to the action of grace and let it save us.