Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.
Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
“I have said these things to you while I am still with you.
But the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.
Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.
You heard me say to you, ‘I am going away, and I am coming to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.
For the past two weeks Jesus has been speaking to us from the context of the Upper Room. In this post-resurrection period, which the church calls Easter, we, like the disciples, are given a season to contemplate the mystery of what it could mean to live in a world where death is not feared and where love is able to replace fear as the primary motivator of human existence.
In these two weeks of speaking from the Upper Room, Jesus has been speaking about love. Not mere eroticism which we in our have allowed to eclipse love, nor the altruism of humanitarianism which can still be an extension of our egos. No Jesus has been commanding, yes a new commandment, to agapetos one another as he sacrificially and unconditionally loved us.
It was Alice Miller who died last month (April 12th ) who taught us that for the early years of a child’s life, parents take on divine status. For the child parents are gods, and when a child witnesses parents fighting and at worst witnesses domestic violence, that child may be scarred and scared for the rest of their life. Fortunately the opposite is also true. Because of the divine impression parents can make on small children, healthy parental relationships can imprint good, true and beautiful images that console and comfort us for all our lives and make us believe that we are wanted and welcome in the skins we inhabit.
I often refer in my thinking and writing to the fact that the gospels record only two moments when the Father speaks to Jesus, his baptism and his transfiguration. At both times the Father says the same thing, “This is my beloved child, in whom I am well pleased“. “Was it this“, I ask Alice Miller, “that got Jesus through all he had to face? Simply knowing that he was unconditionally loved of God?”
As the Ascension and the feast of Pentecost draw close, the church invites us this Mother’s day (in the majority of countries ) to reflect on the fact that a departing Jesus, will petition the Father to send an Advocate who will teach and remind disciples in every age, of what Jesus has taught.
What did he teach? The unconditional love of a parental God who wants nothing more than the wholeness and blessing of all God’s children.
I understand that Jesus, when he described the Spirit, used the word advocate (parakletos) to capture the idea of intercessor and spokesperson on behalf of another but in terms of teaching and reminding us of all that he taught of the self sacrificing, unconditional nature of God, he could just as well have chosen my mother as a metaphor.
She taught me my first prayers, she reminded me to say them and she intercedes for me in her devotions, this I know. Knowing that is as good as hearing God’s voice and seeing a descending dove.
Sadly, I realise that not everyone has the experience of Christ revealing, life affirming, parenting from their mothers, and for that I feel an unspeakable sorrow and pain. My work as a minister, listening to the stories of stunted lives caused by unskilful parents makes me realise that I need to speak carefully and prayerfully here.
Yet acknowledging the frailty of human mothers, is an added reason to celebrate how these ordinary women also are able, by grace, to be Advocates of God, teaching, reminding and interceding.
In my dark and dread-filled times (and there have been enough) it has sometimes been my only comfort, to know that there on her knees, and in my heart is a woman advocating my cause and my pain to God, and whenever I am with her. I have known that I fully belong, at least here in her heart and in God’s.
My mother is the Advocate and the Spirit’s gift of God.
Let not my heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.