By: Br. Martin Nguyen [cjm]
Today’s Gospel continues the discussion of love from last Sunday but gets a sense of larger context. In response to the question concerning Christ’s revealing himself to His disciples in the verse 22, Jesus uses love as the ultimate criterion of His “self-manifestation” to the disciples. Then that His loving relationship with God the Father, with His disciples invites them to keep His word and live it out.
As we love somebody, we try our best to know what our lover likes or loves to do. We even remember as much as possible what our beloved tell us about themselves, their family, friends, etc. Jesus is asking us to go beyond that common behavior. Keeping His word by practicing it will make Him presence through our Tradition of living faith. And the Holy Spirit will make explicit what is implicit in Jesus’ Word for us to obtain a stronger faith in Him.
God is love as John defines in his letter and all relationships derived from that understanding of love. Jesus teaches his disciples that love is formed by the word He has spoken to them. If they keep His word, that will be the evidence of their love for Him and for one another. By that, Jesus and His Father will come and make their dwelling with the disciples. In God’s house, there are many “dwelling places” for each and everyone who practice Jesus’ commandment of love. Moreover, that promise for the future guaranteed by Jesus becomes real here and now when the disciples keep the word of Jesus because that Word comes from God the Father. The eschatology of Jon is both future and present, both promise and presence.
Our immanent capacity may restraint us from understanding thoroughly the teaching of Jesus, therefore the Holy Spirit is promised to guide us to attain greater comprehension and integration. According to Yves Congar, the subject of our Church is the Holy Spirit who guides and helps us as our comforter, counselor, advocate, etc. The Holy Spirit continues the presence of Jesus on earth and testifies His Word. The Advocate also reminds us all that Jesus told the disciples.
Keeping Jesus’ word and acting upon it require us not only having a deeper understanding but also a strong commitment by faith in Him. So many disciples had left after hearing the demand of Good News. If we solely rely on our capacity, we will run short of patience, endurance and even hope that we can overcome the temptation of this world. That is the reason Jesus sends the Holy Spirit to “stands by the side of a defendant” – His follower. By that, we are guaranteed by Jesus’ peace amidst the world full of injustice, violence, hardship, etc. Our faith, hope and love will be the most efficient weapons for us to conquer our fear and anxiety. Jesus knows how “strong” our faith is so He has told us “this before it happens, so that when it happens” we “may believe”. There is no better teacher or Master than Jesus. His last words to His disciples are full of consolation, guarantee, promise, etc. We have been experiencing the genuine peace by doing God’s will but our human nature of inclining towards what we like as comfort zone, enjoyable pleasure brings us away from that peace. Jesus is inviting us to go beyond what we think impossible because of our weakness in order to achieve the immense peace given by our Transcendent God who also bestows on us that capacity of being “transcendent” like Him.
As we love Jesus and want to be His follower, we need to ask the Holy Spirit to teach us what Jesus wants us to do. Discerning the voice of the Holy Spirit among other voices of our “self” or of “the world” requires us to obtain the close intimacy with God through daily prayer, exam of conscience, etc. Praying in every circumstance of our lives will make us be more familiar with the action of the Holy Spirit. Then we will be full of joy and peace to share with our brothers and sisters.