Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
When my Jesuit classmates and I started to preach, we were told to be mindful of the sections of daily Scriptural passages we wanted to avoid in our reflections. The places we want to skip over are the areas where the Lord is usually asking us to ponder more intently. I was reminded of this message when I looked at the end of today’s Gospel reading.
Jesus describes the activity of the Holy Spirit: “And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation.” The word conviction in other contexts normally implies a sense of accusation, and leads to a sense of superiority for the accuser. The image of the Spirit convicting the world would appear to run contrary to the image of the Spirit as encourager and comforter. Also, Pope Francis has been guiding the Church to think about our mission as attracting people to Christ; convicting the world seems counterproductive to that goal.
Another way to translate the verb to convict in this passage is as to expose. Jesus also describes the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth (Jn 14:17). The Spirit reveals the deepest truths about humanity that conflict with first appearances. People of faith, through the Spirit’s presence, see that the world is in desperate need of the gifts of the Spirit. The first step of exposing the world to the truth of the Resurrection is embodying the Resurrection as a Church. We are called to be convinced about the topics of sin, righteousness, and condemnation, as mentioned in the Gospel.
For sin, are we convinced that the root of sin lies in the human heart’s separation from God?
For righteousness, are we convinced that Jesus reveals the loving nature of the Father for all creation?
For condemnation, are we convinced that death, all the forces that oppress people, and the devil have been conquered in the Resurrection?
If we are truthful, we all would have to admit that we are convinced some of the time. We stumble. We forget. We are filled with doubts and uncertainty. The Church gives us the Easter Season to continue to pray in order to see the world in the truth of the Resurrection.
Reflect on these three questions. Where do you feel unconvinced in some capacity? Pray for the Spirit’s guidance and light.