At one stage “counsellor” was translated “advocate” or more obscurely “paraclete”. Both those words carry the meaning of “called to the side of” – so Jesus is promising another one to be “on/at our side” (the other one being Jesus himself). It’s quite something to have God “at/on our side”.
Preparing yesterday’s sermon I came across these words: “We observe some people who are seriously ill and marvel at their courage and doggedness. How do they do it?, we wonder. What enables them to go on and not become discouraged and bitter? Then we notice a worn bible and prayer books by their bedside; the regular visits of a eucharistic minister bringing them communion and words of support from parishioners; family and friends who assure the infirmed of regular prayers and visits.” – All these at her side – as advocate, counsellor, paraclete and all those other words we use to describe the effect of God’s work at our side and on our side – encourager, comforter and peace. I wonder how this understanding inspires a more effective ministry of advocacy – the nurse, solicitor, neighbour, friend and priest.
It reminds me of another reference to God being at our side in his creation of companionship and relationship when kneeling on man’s side removed one of his ribs to create a woman. (Genesis 2:21) There’s a good cartoon here with Eve saying “No Adam, I don’t want to see your scar.”