Saturday, May 08, 2010

Gospel for the 6th Sunday of Easter

From: John 14:23-29

The Promise of the Holy Spirit

[23] Jesus answered him, "If a man 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. [24] He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not Mine but the Father's who sent Me.

[25] "These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. [26] But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. [27] Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. [28] You have heard Me say to you, `I go away, and I will come to you.' If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. [29] And now I have told you before iit takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe."

22-23. It was commonly held by the Jews that when the Messiah came He would be revealed to the whole world as King and Savior. The Apostles take Jesus' words as a revelation for themselves alone, and they are puzzled. Hence the question from Judas Thaddeus. It is interesting to note how easy the Apostles' relations with our Lord are: they simply ask Him about things they do not know and get Him to clear up any doubts they have. This is a good example of how we should approach Jesus, who is also our Teacher and Friend.

Jesus' reply may seem evasive but in fact, by referring to the form His manifestation takes, He explains why He does not reveal Himself to theworld: He makes Himself known to him who loves Him and keeps His commandments. God repeatedly revealed Himself in the Old Testament and promised to dwell in the midst of the people (cf. Exodus 29:45; Ezekiel 37:26-27; etc.); but here Jesus speaks of a presence of God in each person. St. Paul refers to this presence when he asserts that each of us is a temple of the Holy Spirit (cf. 2 Corinthians 6:16-17). St. Augustine, in reflecting on God's ineffable nearness in the soul, exclaims, "Late have I loved You, O Beauty so ancient and so new, late have I loved You! You were within me, and I was in the world outside myself. I searched for You in the world outside myself.... You were with me, but I was not with You. The beautiful things of this world kept me far from You and yet, if they had not been in You, they would have no being at all. You called me; You cried aloud to me; You broke my barrier of deafness; You shone upon me; Your radiance enveloped me; You cured my blindness" ("Confessions", X, 27, 38).

Jesus is referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the soul renewed by grace: "Our heart now needs to distinguish and adore each one of the Divine Persons. The soul is, as it were, making a discovery in the supernatural life, like a little child opening his eyes to the world about him. The soul spends time lovingly with the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit, and readily submits to the work of the lifegiving Paraclete, who gives Himself to us with no merit on our part, bestowing His gifts and the supernatural virtues!" ([St] J. Escriva, "Friends of God", 306).

25-26. Jesus has expounded His teaching very clearly, but the Apostles do not yet fully understand it; they will do so later on, when they receive the Holy Spirit who will guide them unto all truth (cf. John 16:13). "And so the Holy Spirit did teach them and remind them: He taught them what Christ had not said because they could not take it in, and He reminded them of what the Lord had taught and which, either because of the obscurity of the things or because of the dullness of their minds, they had not been able to retain" (Theophylact, "Enarratio in Evangelium Ioannis, ad loc").

The word translated here as "bring to your remembrance" also includes the idea of "suggesting": the Holy Spirit will recall to the Apostles' memory what they had already heard Jesus say--and He will give them light to enable them to discover the depth and richness of everything they have seen and heard. Thus, "the Apostles handed on to their hearers what He had said and done, but with that fuller understanding which they, instructed by the glorious events of Christ (cf. John 2:22) and enlightened by the Spirit of truth, now enjoyed: (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 19).

"Christ has not left His followers without guidance in the task of understanding and living the Gospel. Before returning to His Father, He promised to send His Holy Spirit to the Church: `But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all I have said to you'" (John 14:26).

"This same Spirit guides the successors of the Apostles, your bishops, united with the Bishop of Rome, to whom it was entrusted to preserve the faith and to `preach the Gospel to the whole creation' (Mark 16:15). Listen to their voices, for they bring you the word of the Lord" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Homily at Knock Shrine", 30 September 1979).

In the Gospels is consigned to writing, under the charism of divine inspiration, the Apostles' version of everything they had witnessed--and the understanding of it, which they obtained after Pentecost. So it is that these sacred writers "faithfully hand on what Jesus, the Son of God, while He lived among men, really did and taught for their eternal salvation, until the day when He was taken up (cf. Acts 1:1-2)" (Vatican II, "Dei Verbum", 19). This is why the Church so earnestly recommends the reading of Sacred Scripture, particularly the Gospels. "How I wish your bearing and conversation were such that, on seeing or hearing you, people would say: This man reads the life of Jesus Christ" ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 2).

27. Wishing a person peace was, and still is, the usual form of greeting among Jews and Arabs. It is the greeting Jesus used, and which the Apostles continued to use, as we can see from their letters (cf. 1 Peter 1:3; 3 John 15; Romans 1:7; etc.). The Church still uses it in the liturgy: for example, before Communion the celebrant wishes those present peace, a condition for worthily sharing in the holy sacrifice (cf. Matthew 5:23) and also a fruit of that sacrifice.

On our Lord's lips this common greeting acquires its deepest meaning; peace is one of the great messianic gifts (cf. Isaiah 9:7; 48:18; Micah 5:5; Matthew 10:22; Luke 2:14; 19:38). The peace which Jesus gives us completely transcends the peace of the world, which can be superficial and misleading and compatible with injustice. The peace of Christ is, above all, reconciliation with God and reconciliation of men with one another; it is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit (cf. Galatians 5:22-23); it is "serenity of mind, tranquility of soul, simplicity of heart, a bond of love, a union of charity: no one can inherit God if he does not keep His testament of peace, or live in unity with Christ if he is separated from Christianity" (St. Augustine, "De Verbis Domini Serm.", 58).

"Christ `is our peace' (Ephesians 2:14). And today and forever He repeats to us: `My peace I give to you, My peace I leave with you'. [...] Never before in the history of mankind has peace been so much talked about and so ardently desired as in our day. [...] And yet again and again, one can see how peace is undermined and destroyed. [...] Peace is the result of many converging attitudes and realities; it is the product of moral concerns, of ethical principles based on the Gospel message and fortified by it. [...] In his message for the 1971 Day of Peace, my revered predecessor, that pilgrim of peace, [Pope] Paul VI, said: "True peace must be founded upon justice, upon a sense of the untouchable dignity of man, upon the recognition of an indelible and happy equality between men, upon the basic principle of human brotherhood, that is, of the respect and true love due to each man, because he is man'. This same message I affirmed in Mexico and in Poland. I reaffirm it here in Ireland. Every human being has inalienable rights that must be respected. Each human community--ethnic, historical, cultural or religious--has rights which must be respected. Peace is threatened every time one of these rights is violated.
The moral law, guardian of human rights, protector of the dignity of man, cannot be set aside by any person or group, or by the State itself, for any cause, not even for security or in the interests of law and order. The law of God stands in judgment over all reasons of State. As long as injustices exist in any of the areas that touch upon the dignity of the human person, be it in the political, social or economic field, be it in the cultural or religious sphere, true peace will not exist. [...] Peace cannot be established by violence, peace can never flourish in a climate of terror, intimidation and death. It is Jesus Himself who said: `All who take the sword will perish by the sword' (Matthew 26:52). This is the word of God, and it commands this generation of violent men to desist from hatred and violence and to repent" ([Pope] John Paul II, "Homily at Drogheda", 29 September 1979).

The peace and joy which Christ brings us should be typical of believers: "Get rid of those scruples that deprive you of peace.--What takes away your peace of soul cannot come from God.

"When God comes to you, you will feel the truth of those greetings: My peace I give to you..., peace I leave you..., peace be with you..., and you will feel it even in the midst of troubles." ([St] J. Escriva, "The Way", 258).

28. Jesus Christ, as Only-begotten Son of God, possesses divine glory for all eternity; but while He is on earth this glory is veiled and hidden behind His holy human nature (cf. 17:5; Philippians 2:7). It only shows itself on a few occasions, such as when He performs miracles (cf. 2:11) or at the Transfiguration (cf. Matthew 17:1-8 and paragraph). Now, through His death, resurrection and ascension into Heaven Jesus will be glorified--in His body also--as He returns to the Father and enters into His glory. Therefore, His departure from this world should be a source of joy for His disciples; but they do not properly understand what He is saying, and they are saddened because they are more aware of the Master being physically separated from them than the glory which awaits Him.

When Jesus says that the Father is greater than He, He is thinking about His human nature; as man Jesus is going to be glorified, ascending as He does to the right hand of the Father. Jesus Christ "is equal to the Father in His dignity, less than the Father in His humanity" ("Athanasian Creed"). St. Augustine exhorts us to "acknowledge the twofold nature of Christ--the divine, by which He is equal to the Father; the human, by which He is less than the Father. But the one and the other are together not two, but one Christ' ("In Ioann. Evang.", 78, 3). However, although the Father and the Son are equal in nature, eternity and dignity, our Lord's words can also be understood by taking "greater" to refer to His origin: only the Father is "beginning without beginning", whereas the Son proceeds eternally from the Father by way of a generation which is also eternal. Jesus Christ is God from God, Light from Light, True God from True God (cf. Nicene Creed).
Source: "The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries". Biblical text taken from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries made by members of the Faculty of Theology of the University of Navarre, Spain. Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland. Reprinted with permission from Four Courts Press and Scepter Publishers, the U.S. publisher.

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