But the Holy Spirit has two characteristics that help us respond to Satan's accusations.
Just one verse each day.
While the devil is always accusing us, the Holy Spirit is at our side, as an advocate to defend us, Pope Francis noted this May 14 in reflecting on the Gospel reading of this Sunday.
In this Gospel, Jesus refers to the Holy Spirit with a word that comes from the Greek, Paraclete, meaning both consoler and advocate.
“This means that the Holy Spirit never leaves us alone, he is near to us, like an advocate who assists the accused person, standing by his or her side,” the Pope said. “And he suggests to us how to defend ourselves from those who accuses us. Let us recall that the great accuser is always the devil, who puts sin inside of you, the desire to sin, wickedness.”
The Holy Spirit “wants to stay with us: he is not a passing guest who comes to pay us a courtesy visit. He is a companion for life, a stable presence.”
He is Spirit and desires to dwell in our spirits. He is patient and stays with us even when we fall. He remains because he truly loves us; he does not pretend to love us, and then leave us alone when things get difficult. No. He is faithful, he is transparent, he is authentic.
In difficult moments, the Pope said, the Holy Spirit “consoles us, bringing us God’s pardon and strength.”
And when he places our errors before us and corrects us, he does so gently – there is always the timbre of tenderness and the warmth of love in his voice that speaks to the heart.
Certainly, the Spirit, the Paraclete, is demanding, because he is a true, faithful friend, who does not hide anything, who suggests what needs to change and where growth needs to take place. But when he corrects us, he never humiliates us, and never instills distrust. Rather, he conveys the certainty that with God, we can always make it. This is his closeness. This is a beautiful certainty.
Not only does the Spirit defend us from Satan, noted the Pope, he also defends us from ourselves.
He defends usfrom those who accuse us: from ourselves when we do not appreciate and forgive ourselves, when we go so far as perhaps saying to ourselves that we have failed, that we are good for nothing.
He also defends us “from the world who discards those who do not fit into to its dictates and patterns [and] from the devil who is the ‘accuser’ par excellence and the divider (cf. Rev 12:10), and does everything to make us feel incapable and unhappy.”
It is the Holy Spirit who suggests how to respond to all these “accusing thoughts,” said Pope Francis.
The Paraclete, Jesus says, is the One who “reminds us of everything Jesus told us” (cf. Jn 14:26). He reminds us, therefore, of the words of the Gospel, and thus enables us to respond to the accusing devil, not with our own words, but with the Lord’s own words. He reminds us, above all, that Jesus always spoke of the Father who is in heaven, he made the Father known to us, and revealed the Father’s love for us, that we are his children. If we call on the Spirit, we will learn to embrace and recall the most important truth of life that protects us from the accusations of the evil one. And what is the most important truth in life? That we are beloved children of God. We are God’s beloved children: this is the most important truth, and the Spirit reminds us of this.
Questions to consider
Thus Pope Francis encouraged us to consider our relationship with the Holy Spirit, proposing some questions:
Do we call on the Holy Spirit?
Do we pray to him often?
Do we listen to his voice, both when he encourages us and when he corrects us?
Do we respond with Jesus’s words to the accusations from the evil one, to the “tribunals” of life?
Do we remember that we are beloved children of God?
The Pope concluded by asking Mary to “make us docile to the voice of the Holy Spirit and sensitive to his presence.”