Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter
(Acts 16:11-15; John 16:5-11)
If we scratch our heads over Jesus’ meaning in the gospel today, we are in good company. It is said that St. Augustine avoided the passage because of its difficulty! Still, the passage is not impossible to understand. To do so, however, we should note that the word convict is too literal a translation of the Greek and does not fit well with each object. It would be better to say that the Spirit Advocate proves the world wrong regarding sin, righteousness, and condemnation.
The world sees Christians as sinful for believing in Jesus. This may seem odd since we have a sense that the world does not really care what one believes. But the Roman world, at least, had its deities to which people were expected to give homage. Because of their ancient status, Jews were a recognized exception to this rule. So when Christians were expelled from the synagogues, they were persecuted as atheists. The Spirit Advocate (really more a prosecuting attorney) will show the world that the Romans, not the Christians, worship false gods.
The error of righteousness concerns the Jews’ putting Jesus to death for claiming to be God’s son. The Spirit, moving Christians to love one another, shows them to be righteous, not those who crucified Jesus. The final error regards the condemnation of Satan, the prince of this world. Since Jesus is vindicated by his resurrection, his adversary Satan is condemned. We might ask, “Then how can Satan roam freely seeking our ruination?” The gospel would reply that Satan is powerless over true believers; moreover, his limited domination will end once Jesus returns in glory.