God Is Very Close To Us
But the Gospel reading for today adds a particularly important statement: Jesus promises the Holy Spirit (Jn 16:13), whom he calls, several times, the “Paraclete”. What does that mean? In Latin, the word is translated as Consolator, the Comforter. Etymologically, the Latin word means: the one who stays by us when we feel lonely. Thus our solitude ceases to be loneliness. For a human being, solitude is often a place of unhappiness; he needs love, and solitude makes the absence of it conspicuous. Loneliness indicates a lack of love; it is something that threatens our quality of life at the deepest level. Not being loved is at the core of human suffering and personal sadness. The word Consoler tells us precisely that we are not alone, that we can never feel abandoned by Love. By the gift of the Holy Spirit, God has entered into our loneliness and has shattered it. Indeed, this is genuine consolation; it does not consist merely of words but has the force of an active and effective reality. During the Middle Ages this definition of the Spirit as Consoler led to the Christian duty of entering into the solitude of those who suffer. The first hospices and hospitals were dedicated to the Holy Spirit: thus men undertook the mission of continuing the Spirit’s work; they dedicated themselves to being “consolers”, to entering into the solitude of the sick, the suffering, and the elderly, so as to bring them light.
Ratzinger, J. (2007). Europe Today and Tomorrow: Addressing the Fundamental Issues. (M. J. Miller, Trans.) (pp. 103–104). San Francisco: Ignatius Press.