Today’s Gospel offers a unique insight into the work of sanctity in a few short lines. Jesus is talking with His apostles about how an Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will come to them. However, in order for the Holy Spirit to come, Jesus must return to the Father. Jesus notices that this news fills the apostles with grief. They cannot imagine what it would be like to lose Him. 

It is God’s Will, which means it is Jesus’ Will, that he return to heaven. It also means that this plan will be for the good of the apostles and the good of the whole world. In that moment, the apostles can only see their loss. How can the Messiah leave them? 

Jesus is teaching the apostles how to let go, even of good and beautiful things, so that they can more freely receive what God intends for them. In this case, the Holy Spirit was coming to dwell intimately with the new Christian community and to continue spreading the faith of the salvation found in Jesus Christ. This isn’t a trade in, as if the Spirit is somehow better than Jesus. The Holy Spirit is, in every way, God, the Third Person of the Blessed Trinity. But His presence with us is uniquely His own and different from Jesus walking on the earth. 

Being a saint involves listening closely to the whisperings of the Spirit. Just like the apostles had to let go of Jesus to receive the Spirit, we may be asked to let go of something good or fulfilling in order to receive something new from God. 

Like the apostles, this isn’t a trade-in system like when we trade in a new phone for an upgrade. God’s ways are not our ways. We may not be able to see with clarity how the experience or situation being sacrificed can ever be replaced. However, we can trust in God’s faithfulness. St. Paul reminds us that, “all things work for the good of those who love God and are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

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