John 14:15-21 (NRSV)
15"If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. 17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.
18"I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you. 19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live. 20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them."
Sometimes one word makes all the difference. In promising the disciples the presence of the Holy Spirit, Jesus doesn’t say he will send “the” Advocate or “an” Advocate, but “another” Advocate. For there to be “another” of something, we must already be familiar with a first of that thing. Jesus has been, for the disciples, their first “Advocate.” They already “know him because he abides with [them]” (v. 17).
When my infant was to start full-time daycare, I didn’t have the difficult transition some parents do because his “new” caregiver wasn’t new at all: she was Grandma! The sense that he would be in the hands of another family member he already knew eased the hand-off for Mama and baby alike.
We were fortunate to have this caregiving arrangement available. But the caregiving arrangement Jesus provided is available to all: Even when Jesus is no longer physically with us, another who loves us just as he does—another whose truth we’ve seen in him—another whom we already know—is here. We are in good hands.
Jesus, thank you for sending the Holy Spirit to be our Advocate, Comforter, and Guide. Amen.