Sixth Sunday of Easter: John 14:15-21
15 “If you love me, you will obey my commandments.
16 I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, who will stay with you for ever.
17 He is the Spirit who reveals the truth about God. The world cannot receive him, because it cannot see him or know him. But you know him, because he remains with you and is in you.
18 When I go, you will not be left all alone; I will come back to you.
19 In a little while the world will see me no more, but you will see me; and because I live, you also will live.
20 When that day comes, you will know that I am in my Father and that you are in me, just as I am in you.
21 Those who accept my commandments and obey them are the ones who love me. My Father will love those who love me; I too will love them and reveal myself to them.”
Other readings: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; Psalm 66:1-7, 16, 20; 1 Peter 3:15-18
This reading from John takes us right to the heart of the Passover supper and Jesus’s final instructions for his most intimate friends and disciples.
Jesus has some important points to make about his relationship with the disciples and what will happen when he goes away and the Father sends the Holy Spirit to them.
The Holy Spirit will come with an important guarantee: his permanent presence with every disciple (verses 16-17). The world, or non-believers, cannot receive the Holy Spirit because they cannot see or know him. But the disciples will. The Holy Spirit is called “another Helper” – that is, in addition to Jesus himself.
In many ways the world stands in opposition to the disciples and Jesus, but John chooses not to develop that theme here.
Jesus doesn’t go into any details about his return but leaves the disciples with the promise that “I will come back for you”. So his Resurrection and return is promised here in verse 18. These verses reveal the deep concern Jesus has for his beloved disciples in the face of the coming storm.
Woven throughout this lesson in love is Jesus’s invitation to his disciples to live out their love for him. But he knows the disciples need all the help they can get. So Jesus turns to his Father to ask for the gift of the Holy Spirit on behalf of his disciples.
The Holy Spirit loves those who love Jesus and who keep his commandments. He also acts as advocate, helper and teacher, sustaining the disciples along the sometimes challenging path of obedience to Jesus and his commandments.
All these themes are woven into a rich tapestry of teaching. In these few verses, which are part of a much longer passage of teaching, complex ideas are spelt out with great simplicity and clarity.
The Holy Spirit has various roles but Jesus pinpoints perhaps the most important in verse 17: to reveal “the truth about God”. We constantly need to be reminded about what God is really like because our view of God can so easily be distorted. Love and obedience will flow more easily the deeper our understanding of God’s nature. Take some time to reflect on this.
What part does the Holy Spirit play in your relationship with God? What do you do to sustain this relationship? When are you most aware of the Holy Spirit’s guidance?
The liturgy today uses Psalm 66, or part of it, to sing God’s praises. Use some verses from this psalm to praise God, or maybe speak or write your own song of praise. Alternatively, try drawing a simple picture to express your praise.
Reflect on the events of the past week. Praise God for his presence with you throughout all that has happened, whether good or bad.
Which of the themes in today’s teaching particularly touched your heart and spirit? Ask the Holy Spirit to show you what God wants you to see and how you need to respond.
Lectio Divina is an ancient tradition of reading and engaging with God’s Word
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