St. John the Apostle opens the record of Our Lord’s great discourse which took place at the Last Supper with these words: “Jesus, knowing that His hour was come, that He should pass out of this world to the Father; having loved His own who were in the world, He loved them unto the end.” (Jo.13:1). Our Lord enters into the main theme of His last and greatest sermon after the departure of Judas. Having announced to His disciples that He will soon depart from this world and return to His Father, He reassures them that He will not leave them orphans: “And I will ask the Father, and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide in you forever. Te Spirit of Truth whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, nor knoweth Him: but you shall know Him, because He shall abide with you, and He shall be in you.” (Jo.14:16-17)
Our Lord then explains to His startled disciples, as they try to grapple with the idea of life without their beloved Master, that it is indeed expedient that He depart from them: “For if I go not, the Paraclete will not come to you; but if I go, I will send Him to you....When He, the Spirit of Truth, is come, He will teach you all truth.” (Jo.16:7,13)
Thus our Lord’s love becomes defnitive and irrevocable. Loving his disciples “unto the end”, He reveals to them for the first time the next and final chapter in the story of their redemption. Our Lord’s own work will soon be accomplished. Tomorrow He will deliver up His divine life for the ransom of many, and three days later He will confrm to the world His victory over Satan and sin by rising from the dead. Contrary to the apostles’ expectations (“Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the kingdom of Israel?" - Acts 1:6), our Lord does not resume His public life. The Gospels record several sporadic apparitions of our Lord to His apostles and several hundred of His closest followers.
Then, merely forty days after the resurrection, our Lord leaves this world, to return only at the end of time. Why this sudden and secret departure of our Lord? Does not the aftermath of His resurrection constitute a perfect opportunity to confrm and consolidate the past three years of preaching and miraclemaking? Once Israel is converted, our Lord could then turn to the Gentile nations and bring them also to the knowledge and service of His Heavenly Father.
Our Lord departs in order to make way for the Holy Ghost. In God’s mysterious designs, it falls to the Holy Ghost to exploit Christ’s redemptive mission and bring the Jewish and Gentile worlds to the knowledge, love, and service of our Heavenly Father. Christ’s mission was to reconcile man with God and God with man. He offered penance and love in proportion to the pride and depravity of man’s sins, and made reparation of such abundance and generosity that mankind is henceforth pleasing in God’s eyes, and is become worthy of sanctifying grace. By His death and resurrection, Christ pacifed the mutual relations between God and man. Now it falls to the Holy Ghost to sanctify the relationship, by pouring out onto mankind the fruits of Christ’s redemption.
Our Lord’s most Sacred Heart is ablaze as He speaks of the Paraclete Whom He will send to abide with us, and to be in us. Pentecost is the great crowning event of His redemptive work. It is for this that Christ labored. It is for this that He became incarnate. He has looked forward to this moment from the first moment of His earthly existence. Te mission or sending of the Holy Ghost to the souls of men is the full fruit and fnal bloom of our Lord’s earthly work. It is the motive and purpose of all His efforts. Now the moment is come to suffer, die, and rise, and thus make the human race ready and worthy to receive the Holy Ghost.
Fr. John Brucciani, Prior