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THE PROOF OF FAITHFULNESS

Read­ing Time: 9 minutes

(Ref. Texts: Acts 15:1–2.22–29; Rev 21:10–14.22–23; John 14:23–29)

God’s thoughts, his will, his love, his judg­ments are all man’s home. To think his thoughts, to choose his will, to love his loves, to judge his judg­ments, and thus to know that he is in us, is to be at home” (G. Macdonald).

Wait for the Lord. Behave your­self man­fully, and be of good cour­age. Do not be faith­less, but stay in your place and do not turn back” (Thomas a Kempis).

Introduction

This Sunday Gos­pel read­ing is an exten­sion and applic­a­tion of that of last Sunday (cf. John 13:31–35). Last Sunday, new com­mand­ment was giv­en. This Sunday, the the­or­et­ic­al com­mand to love is expec­ted to be demon­strated by heed­ing to the instruc­tions or words of the Gos­pel. It is the only evid­ence of faith­ful­ness. This is the major theme of this chapter. The kind of love Jesus is refer­ring to is expressed with agapē. This choice indic­ates that such love is uncon­di­tion­al and not attached to any bene­fit. Con­trar­ily, show­ing that one loves God by keep­ing to God’s word has the con­sequence of the Son (Jesus) and the Fath­er (God) mak­ing their dwell­ing place in that per­son. The life of Chris­ti­ans is not shaped by Jesus’ absence but by God’s abid­ing pres­ence. God’s pres­ence over­comes anxi­ety about God’s absence. And the present holds in it the seeds of a fresh future shaped by love, not fear or anxiety.

This Sunday Gos­pel also con­tains a glimpse of some of the oth­er themes of the farewell dis­course. Such themes as Jesus’ rela­tion­ship with the Fath­er and the dis­ciples’ rela­tion­ship to Jesus which also links the dis­ciples to the Fath­er. Jesus prom­ises to send an Advocate/intercessor who will remind the dis­ciples and believ­ers of everything that Jesus taught them. This of course, will bring them peace. With the words of this Gos­pel, Jesus is pre­par­ing his dis­ciples in advance for his absence so that they will con­tin­ue to believe in him and not feel aban­doned ascends to the Fath­er. After the Paschal appear­ances, Jesus will remain with his fol­low­ers in a very dif­fer­ent way through­out the cen­tur­ies. As the joy and cel­eb­ra­tion of the Paschal sea­son draws to an end, the liturgy reminds us that Jesus will con­tin­ue to remain with through the Holy Spir­it, who teaches us everything we need to know, reminds us of all that Jesus taught, and brings us last­ing peace.

Divine abode

If any­one loves me, he will keep my word, and my Fath­er will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him” (John 14:23). Accord­ing to our under­stand­ing, we need extraordin­ary effort to please God and attract His bless­ings. But accord­ing to Jesus, all we need do is to show our love for God by keep­ing and obey­ing His word. Who­ever does this will be love by the Fath­er and the Son, who will make their dwell­ing-place in that per­son and with that per­son. This is amaz­ing! What a privilege!

The Greek term monē means dwell­ing or dwell­ing place, abode, and room. You can under­stand why many Eng­lish trans­la­tions render the Greek term as ‘home.’ The same is used in a dif­fer­ent con­text in John 14:2. While in John 14:2, these dwell­ing places are loc­ated in God’s house. They belong to the dis­ciples. in the Gos­pel read­ing of this Sunday, Jesus, and the Fath­er will make their abode with the per­son. That is, they will dwell in him or her. This idea of God dwell­ing or liv­ing among his people is not new to the read­ers of the Gos­pel. In the pro­logue of the Fourth Gos­pel (cf. 1:14), John notes that the Word became flesh and made his dwell­ing place among us. Dwelt or dwell­ing among us lit­er­ally means pitched or pitch­ing his tent (Greek: skēnoō) among humans. This is an allu­sion to Exodus 25:8–9; 33:7, where we are told that God dwelt among the Israel­ites in the tabernacle.

Fol­low­ing the theo­logy of the Epistle to the Hebrews, that, in the past, God had mani­fes­ted His pres­ence to the Israel­ites in the tab­er­nacle and the temple. Now, on our own day, God resides among His people via the incarn­ate Word, Jesus the Christ (cf. John 1:17). Con­sequently, the advent of Jesus is a ful­fil­ment of the Hebrew (Old) Test­a­ment sym­bol­ism for God’s dwell­ing with Man in the tab­er­nacle and the temple. Later, through the Holy Spir­it, Christ trans­formed both the Church (cf. 1Cor 3:16) and the Christian’s body into a temple (cf. 1Cor 6:19). For now, Fath­er and Son make their home with and among Chris­ti­ans. But Jesus is gradu­ally pre­par­ing a dwell­ing place for them in his Father’s house, where they will live with him (cf. John 14:2–3).

To be among the ten­ants of this heav­enly abode, we must prove that we love God by keep­ing and obey­ing his words. And what are those words? Without rig­mar­ol­ing and enga­ging in series of zig­zagged argu­ments, those words are the teach­ings of Jesus as presen­ted and sum­mar­ized in vari­ous forms in the Gos­pels. Our qual­i­fic­a­tion will be eval­u­ated not accord­ing to our per­son­al and por­ous spir­itu­al­ity, but by our faith­ful­ness and adher­ence to the words of the Gos­pel. When the Son and the Fath­er even­tu­ally erect their home with those found worthy, they will begin to see, admire and exper­i­ence the glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Fath­er, full of grace and truth (cf. John 1:14), and who came not do his own will, but the will of the One who sent him (cf. John 6:38; 7:16). This is para­dise and eschat­o­lo­gic­al vis­ion. Strive to enjoy it!

The advocate

The Advoc­ate, the Holy Spir­it, whom the Fath­er will send in my name, will teach you everything, and will cause you to remem­ber everything I said to you” (John 14:26). In case the dis­ciples have dif­fi­culty under­stand­ing the words of Jesus, he prom­ises them the Paraclete from the Fath­er who will teach and remind them everything. This Paraclete is no oth­er one than the Holy Spir­it (agios pneuma). The Greek term trans­lated as advoc­ate by the Eng­lish ver­sions of the Bible is paraklē­tos. While vari­ous Eng­lish trans­la­tions render it as Advoc­ate, Com­fort­er, Help­er, Coun­sel­lor, the New Jer­u­s­alem Bible retains the Greek term Paraclete.

Paraclete is a com­pound word, which when uncom­poun­ded means “called beside.” This means that the Paraclete is called to stay beside in the same way law­yers stay beside their cli­ents in the law court, telling them when to speak, how to speak and what to speak. Hence, both Advoc­ate, Com­fort­er, Coun­selor, and Help­er refer to the func­tions of the Paraclete. The Paraclete advoc­ates, com­forts, coun­cils and helps those who dis­pose them­selves. If the Paraclete is called to stay beside the dis­ciples, then, the Paraclete becomes the advoc­ate, the com­fort­er, the coun­selor and the help­er not only for the dis­ciples, but also for every true believ­er, race, tongue, and nation. In advoc­at­ing, com­fort­ing, coun­selling and assist­ing the dis­ciples (and every true believ­er), the Paraclete will teach them everything and remind them of all that Jesus has taught them. The essence of the remind­ing is to enable them put into prac­tice what they have learnt, so that the Son and the Fath­er will erect their dwell­ing place in them and with them. The pres­ence of the Paraclete is in fact, the abid­ing of the Fath­er and the Son in the believer.

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