If you’ve ever watched any television, you’ve probably seen drug commercials that promise to do everything from lowering your cholesterol, help you grow back your hair, deal with diabetes – to countless other things. They have these upbeat images and music that about 15 to 20 seconds into it a fast-paced narrator starts slipping in all the side effects. You may experience panic attacks, fatigue, loss of the ability to smell or taste, explosive diarrhea – that then is drowned out with a swell of the music to conclude it. To the point that you’re left remembering the drug but none of that bad stuff. It’s quite effective. Even though, thank God, I don’t have Diabetes, and can’t remember the list of side effects, I have that drug commercial Ozempic set to that song from the 70’s “Magic” stuck in my head – it was on at least 4 times last night.
That image came to mind reading this Gospel. Once again we find ourselves hearing from Holy Thursday’s Last Supper narrative. Jesus has just told the disciples in this Gospel about what’s to come. At this point, laying out what’s going to happen to the disciples after they receive the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. And we hear: they will expel you from the synagogues and some they will kill thinking they are doing God’s will. O – O – O – Ozempic!
Just like those prescription drugs that we calculate the risk of taking something in order to deal with something we’re suffering from, Jesus is being upfront, clear and honest about what to expect will happen once we receive this gift of the Holy Spirit. He’s not being dishonest, leading people astray or being overly optimistic with them saying things they want to hear. He’s telling them – you’re going to see what they do to me tomorrow, Good Friday. You’re going to encounter somethings that will be just as ugly, just as frightening, just as lethal things yourselves. But the source of consolation is that the Holy Spirit is coming…
– the Holy Spirit will comfort you in those times…
the Holy Spirit will encourage you when your courage is waning…
the Holy Spirit will remind you that your Faith, your Hope doesn’t come from being accepted by the world, it doesn’t come with winning over these enemies… What does the Holy Spirit do? Jesus tells us:
the Holy Spirit, the advocate – will testify to me
– the Holy Spirit is going to keep us focused that our faith, our hope is in Jesus. On all that Jesus has accomplished. On all that’s possible through Him.
The Holy Spirit brings honest Hope – because it’s based not on false optimism, fake-it-till-you-make it attitudes. It’s not based on the things, the wishes of the world… It’s real. It’s based on the vision that is eternity, that is Him.
If we’ve learned anything these last 8 weeks, the things that many in the world put their hopes on or the people they put their hopes in can be wiped out pretty quickly, suddenly and completely. The Holy Spirit continues to point us to our God who is eternal, who is unchanging, who has come to us, remains with us, and promises us a future that is removed from the fading, passing things of this world, the false promises of those who’s hope is based on those things of this world.
Jesus tells us all this so that we “may not fall away…” That we won’t focus on the side-effects, but remember the joy filled, eternal promises; trust and hope in Him to fulfill them; and join in the eternal songs of praise that are raised up to the Lord which wipe away the negative things we encounter as we continue to follow Him, journey towards Him.