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There is a beautiful story in Canon Sheehan’ book Glenanaar about the trial of some men on trumped up charges. These men have been charged by dishonest magistrates, they have been brought before a crooked judge and a prejudiced jury. The scene is set very well: the men stand in the dock, frightened, cowed down, their people are gathered in the courtroom, in an alien place, with no real hope. The crooked and dishonest judge, prosecutors and juries seem complacent and at ease, certain they will be able to hang these men without any great problem.

Then the extraordinary happens: the back door of the courtroom opens, letting in a breeze that rushes through the room. The breeze heralds the arrival of someone who will change everything: Daniel O’Connell, the great advocate has arrived. He heard of the men’s plight and rode through the night to defend them. As he enters, the frightened and hopeless people are filled with an excitement and an enthusiasm, the men in the dock stand up straight and erect, proud that someone thought so much of them, and the crooked dishonest judge prosecutor and jury are the ones who turn pale and uncomfortable…….the arrival of the advocate has changed everything, the arrival of the advocate has brought light into darkness, hope into despair, life where death had been imminent.

A similar breeze flows into the room where the disciples were gathered, cowed down and frightened on the first Pentecost, yet with the arrival of their Advocate all changes as well… those who were frightened and ashamed become the very ones who boldly go out before all the people of Jerusalem to tell the message of Jesus Christ. They were once frightened and worried, but they are the very ones who give courage and life to others….. and the difference is that gift of the Spirit.

The Church lives from that gift of the Spirit. Today we welcome the gift of the Spirit once more into our lives. It is the Spirit who gives us life and hope. It is the Spirit who vivifies and enlivens us. It is the Spirit who gives us courage and opens us up to the wonder of God’s presence. The Spirit is the Advocate who stands at our side as we face the troubles and difficulties of life. The Spirit is our Advocate, the one who pleads our cause and who gives us a sense of  what really matters.