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Apostles Seventh Sunday

Season of Apostles

APOSTLES SEVENTH SUNDAY
JOHN 14:15-20; 25-26
THE HELPER SENT BY THE FATHER THROUGH THE PRAYER OF JESUS

INTRODUCTION

This gospel passage is a part of Jesus’ discourse to his apostles during the last supper. Because it was his farewell speech with the prediction of his betrayal by Judas Iscariot and denial of Peter three times, as well as his glorification through his imminent passion, death, and resurrection, the apostles were moody. Jesus assured them of sending his Advocate from the Father, who would dwell within them and guide them. Jesus foretold his resurrection after his death, and he will come again to assemble all his faithful servants and govern them in peace. Let us honor the Holy Spirit that dwells in us since our reception of baptism and live according to the teachings of Jesus and guidance of the Holy Spirit.

BIBLE TEXT (JOHN 14:15-20; 25-26)

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

(Jn 14:15) If you love me, you will keep my commandments; (16) and I will ask the Father and he will give you another to be your Advocate, who will be with you forever. (17) This is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him for he is with you and will be in you. (18) I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you. (19) A little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me, because I live and you will also live. (20) On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you.

(Jn 14:25) I have told you all this while I am still with you. (26) From now on the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you.

INTERPRETATION

Background

During the last supper, Jesus surprised his apostles by washing their feet to teach them the spirit of service and humility they must keep in their ministry (Jn 13:1-17). Jesus testified with deep distress one of them would betray him (Jn 13:21). After Judas left, Jesus said his time of glorification had arrived. He would be with them only for a little while and then he would depart where they could not accompany him (Jn 13:33). Jesus advised them to keep the commandment of love (Jn 13:34-35). He also predicted Peter would deny him three times that night (Jn 13:38).

Jesus then started his last supper discourse. He said he was going to his Father’s house to prepare a place for his disciples and promised that he would return to take them there (Jn 14:1-3). When Thomas stated they do not know the destination of Jesus and his way, Jesus revealed he is the way, the truth, and the life (Jn 14:4-7). To Philip’s request to show them the Father, Jesus replied, “I am in the Father and the Father is in me” (Jn 14:10).

Jesus Promises the Holy Spirit

Jesus consoled the apostles, who were troubled by his disclosure on his departure from them, stating how they would have the Holy Trinity with them. He promised the descent of the Holy Spirit on them and his own return to them (Jn 14:16-18). Jesus also promised the Father’s presence with them. “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn 14:23).

(Jn 14:15) If you love me, you will keep my commandments

Keeping Jesus’ commandments is a requirement for a loving relationship with him. Such a person also will enjoy the love and dwelling of the Father (Jn 14:23). Faith, love, and obedience should go together. “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God” (Jn 16:27). Our faith in Jesus as the Savior sent by the Father will induce us to love him and keep his teachings in our lives. Reversely, if we do not obey what Jesus taught, we do not have love and faith in him. John wrote, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1Jn 4:20-21).

Jesus taught us the love of the Father in his life by his total submission to the Father. He said, “I came down from heaven not to do my own will but the will of the one who sent me” (Jn 6:38). In his great agony, Jesus prayed, “Father, if you are willing, take this cup away from me; still, not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22:42). Though the Father did not take away the passion and death, He sent an angel to strengthen Jesus (Lk 22:43). He said we can be his family by obeying God’s commandments. “Here are my mother and my brothers. For whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Mt 12:49-50).

While Jesus bid farewell to his apostles, they were in grief and were expressing their love for Jesus. He said love is to be expressed more than in words like Peter’s unsuccessful promise, “I will lay down my life for you” (Jn 13:37), but in action by keeping Jesus’ commandment of love. So, John wrote, “For the love of God is this, that we keep his commandments” (1 Jn 5:3). “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name? Did we not drive out demons in your name? Did we not do mighty deeds in your name?’ Then I will declare to them solemnly, ‘I never knew you. Depart from me, you evildoers.’” (Mt 7:21-23).

(16) and I will ask the Father and he will give you another to be your Advocate, who will be with you forever.

I will ask the Father

Jesus is the mediator for us in front of God the Father. “Jesus Christ is true God and true man, in the unity of his divine person; for this reason, he is the one and only mediator between God and men” (CCC #480). Hence, he can mediate for us, and his mediation is powerful. He bridges the gap between the humans and God caused by the fall of the first parents and the sins we commit. The punishment for sin is death. Jesus accepted it on our behalf and gained justification for us from the Father. “There is also one mediator between God and the human race, Christ Jesus, himself human, who gave himself as ransom for all” (1 Tim 2:5-6). Without Jesus, we have no access to the Father. Jesus assured the apostles that he will intercede for them to the Father for sending the Holy Spirit upon them.

Though Jesus departed physically from his disciples, he continues to intercede for them. “It is Christ [Jesus] who died, rather, was raised, who also is at the right hand of God, who indeed intercedes for us” (Rom 8:34). So, the followers of Jesus can ask favors from God through Jesus Christ even after his ascension to heaven. Thus, we address our prayers to God in the name of Jesus. The disciples do their part to continue the mission of Jesus in this world while Jesus maintains his mediation in heaven for the church and its members.

and he will give you another to be your Advocate

According to John, Jesus himself is an advocate for us in heaven (1 Jn 2:1). John refers four times the same word for the Holy Spirit in the Last Supper discourse of Jesus. So, besides Jesus, the Holy Spirit is “another” advocate for us. Though both are advocates, they have distinct roles and are one with the Father forming the Holy Trinity.

The Parakletos is understood as an Advocate, Counselor, and Comforter with different shades of meaning.

1. The Holy Spirit is an Advocate because, while dwelling in the believers (1 Cor 3:16), He intercedes for them with the Father for granting mercy and forgiveness of sins (Jn 14:16-17).

2. The Holy Spirit is a Counselor because in the physical absence of Jesus, the Spirit reminded and instructed the apostles everything that Jesus had told them (Jn 14:26). When Jesus taught about the Kingdom of God in parables, even the disciples did not understand it well. He had to clarify them in private to the disciples. “Without parables he did not speak to them, but to his own disciples he explained everything in private” (Mk 4:34). Jesus limited his teachings considering the constraint in the understanding of his disciples. “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming” (Jn 16:12-13). Thus, the Holy Spirit followed up on the teaching ministry of Jesus.

3. The Holy Spirit is also a Comforter because His presence would empower the disciples to face persecution and obstacles in Christian witnessing. “But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans. When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10:17-20).

who will be with you forever

Jesus was physically present with the disciples only for over three years. However, he continuously advocates for the believers from heaven. He sent the Holy Spirit to remain permanently with them from the time of their baptism in the Holy Spirit.

(17) This is the Spirit of truth whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him for he is with you and will be in you.

This is the Spirit of truth

Unlike the synoptic gospels, John associated truth with Jesus. Jesus is “full of grace and truth” (Jn 1:14). “Grace and truth came through Jesus Christ” (Jn 1:17). John the Baptist “testified to the truth” (Jn 5:33). Jesus told the Jews who believed in him, “If you remain in my word, you will truly be my disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free” (Jn 8:32). When Pilate asked Jesus about his kingship, Jesus answered, “You say I am a king. For this I was born and for this I came into the world, to testify to the truth. Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice” (Jn 18:37). The Jews attempted to kill Jesus because he told them the truth that he heard from the Father (Jn 8:40). Jesus said, “I am the way and the truth and the life” (Jn 14:6). He then named the Holy Spirit as the Spirit of Truth (Jn 14:17) because the Spirit also reveals the truth of heaven.

Satan is the opposite of truth because he is a liar. According to Jesus, “He was a murderer from the beginning and does not stand in truth, because there is no truth in him. When he tells a lie, he speaks in character, because he is a liar and the father of lies” (Jn 8:44). He misled Eve to disobey God by misinterpreting the true command God gave to Adam. The first parents fell into Satan’s lie. So, Biblically truth is divine, and lie is devilish.

This is the Spirit of truth

The “Spirit of truth” is an attribute of the Holy Spirit. He is also known as “the Spirit of holiness” (Rom 1:4), “the Spirit of life” (Rom 8:2), the “Spirit of wisdom and revelation” (Eph 1:17), “the Spirit of grace” (Heb 10:29), and “the Spirit of glory” (1 Pet 4:14). The Spirit of truth provides the disciples with the gift of correct understanding of the Sacred Scripture. Without the guidance of the Spirit, the believers may deviate from the truth under the influence of the devil, the liar.

whom the world cannot receive because it neither sees him nor knows him.

“The world” here means non-Christians who live according to the laws of the world and not that of Christ. They are ignorant of the Spirit of truth and so do not have the Spirit. “Now the natural person does not accept what pertains to the Spirit of God, for to him it is foolishness, and he cannot understand it, because it is judged spiritually. The spiritual person, however, can judge everything but is not subject to judgment by anyone” (1 Cor 2:14-15). “The Spirit who ‘has spoken through the prophets’ makes us hear the Father's Word, but we do not hear the Spirit himself. We know him only in the movement by which he reveals the Word to us and disposes us to welcome him in faith. The Spirit of truth who ‘unveils’ Christ to us ‘will not speak on his own.’ Such properly divine self-effacement explains why ‘the world cannot receive [him], because it neither sees him nor knows him,’ while those who believe in Christ know the Spirit because he dwells with them” (CCC 687).

But you know him for he is with you and will be in you.

Those baptized in the Trinitarian formula have received the Holy Spirit, who dwells in the person from then on. Such a person knows the working of the Spirit in him or her and is receptive to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. This contrasts with the spiritual blindness of the worldly people.

The apostles had received the Holy Spirit from Jesus, who baptized them in water and Spirit. However, he revealed they will receive the Holy Spirit after his ascension as well. Then the Spirit will remain with them forever.

(18) I will not leave you orphans; I will come back to you.

Jesus, who trained the apostles full time, was bidding farewell to them. They, who left everything for Jesus, felt they would become like orphans. Realizing their inner thoughts and hurt feeling, Jesus comforted them, revealing his forthcoming reappearance. This return can be taken as his appearances to them during his forty-days of post-resurrection period, or his spiritual presence along with the Holy Spirit, or his second coming in glory to judge the living and the dead, or all of these.

(19) A little while and the world will see me no more, but you will see me, because I live and you will also live.

There was a short-term withdrawal of Jesus from the time of his burial to his resurrection on the third day. Then he appeared to a few disciples for forty days until his ascension. They also could experience his spiritual presence along with the Holy Spirit and during the Holy Eucharistic celebration. The worldly people could see none of such manifestation of Jesus.

because I live and you will also live.

Even though Jesus died on the cross, he rose for eternity. His disciples also inherited eternal life through his redemptive ministry. The eternal life of Christians is Jesus’ significant contribution because they inherited it through his resurrection (1 Cor 15:12-19). After the ascension, the Father enthroned him in heaven to His right (Mk 16:19). He is alive with the church and with the believers through the Holy Spirit. Jesus is present where two or three gather in his name (Mt 18:20), especially during the Eucharistic celebration.

(20) On that day you will know that I am in my Father and you in me, and I in you.

On that day you will know

Which day Jesus is referring here? That day cannot be the day of resurrection because the apostles saw only Jesus and not the other persons of the Holy Trinity on that day. So, it might be the day of his second coming in glory to judge the living and the dead and to rule over the universe for eternity. We should take this from the context of the statement. Jesus was speaking of sending the Advocate from the Father through his intercession. So, it could be the day of Pentecost when the Father answered Jesus’s request to send the Holy Spirit on the apostles. Some scholars believe Jesus was not referring to a particular day of the human calendar, but a time between his resurrection and his second coming in glory for the judgement of all humanity.

I am in my Father

Jesus promised to the apostles they would later understand the unity of the Father and the Son, and the Son and his disciples on his day of manifestation. Jesus had revealed his union with the Father elsewhere during his discourses.

1. While Jesus was in Jerusalem during the winter for the feast of Dedication, he told the Jews who questioned him, “The Father and I are one” (Jn 10:30). The Jews picked up rocks to stone him. Then Jesus said, “If I do not perform my Father’s works, do not believe me; but if I perform them, even if you do not believe me, believe the works, so that you may realize and understand that the Father is in me and I am in the Father” (Jn 10:37-38).

2. During the Last Supper discourse, Philip asked Jesus, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us” (Jn 14:8). Jesus’ reply was, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. … Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves” (Jn 14:9-11).

Thus, the persons in the Most Holy Trinity are inseparable because they are substantially one. “Following this apostolic tradition, the Church confessed at the first ecumenical council at Nicaea (325) that the Son is ‘consubstantial’ with the Father, that is, one only God with him. The second ecumenical council, held at Constantinople in 381, kept this expression in its formulation of the Nicene Creed and confessed ‘the only-begotten Son of God, eternally begotten of the Father, light from light, true God from true God, begotten not made, consubstantial with the Father’” (CCC 242).

and you in me, and I in you.

Those who are united with Christ through the baptism of water and Spirit get incorporated into his mystical body. “Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission” (CCC 1213). Jesus illustrated our unity with him in the parable of Vine and Branches (Jn 15:1-8). “Remain in me, as I remain in you. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit on its own unless it remains on the vine, so neither can you unless you remain in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit, because without me you can do nothing” (Jn 15:4-5).

While teaching on the Holy Eucharist he was planning to establish, Jesus said, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him” (Jn 6:56). Hence, the Holy Eucharist nourishes the soul and keeps the bond between Jesus and his disciples.

Jesus shared his authority and power to preach the gospel and to do the works of God with his disciples. He continues that through his faithful followers. During his last supper discourse, Jesus said to the apostles, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father. And whatever you ask in my name, I will do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If you ask anything of me in my name, I will do it” (Jn 14:12-14).

The unity of Christians with Christ differs from the unity of the Father and the Son. Jesus shares unity in substance with his Father. The disciples are united with Jesus through his church as a mystical body.

(Jn 14:25) I have told you all this while I am still with you.

Jesus was about to depart from his apostles. They did not understand everything that Jesus told them. However, they should not worry about the lack of full understanding of Jesus’ teachings. He was preparing them to receive the Holy Spirit, who would reveal to them everything that they should know. This shows whatever happened in Jesus’ life was not incidental but was pre-scheduled according to the divine plan of salvation.

(26) From now on the Advocate, the Holy Spirit whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and remind you of all that I have told you.

From now on

Jesus prepared the apostles for a transition in God’s salvation plan. His physical presence and direct intervention were ending. The Holy Spirit was taking over the ministry from the day of Pentecost. So, he started explaining the role of the third person of the Most Holy Trinity.

The Advocate, the Holy Spirit

Like Jesus who had been an advocate for us as an expiation for our sins (1 Jn 2:1), he promised to the apostles another Advocate from the Father who would remain with them (Jn 14:16-17) and help them in their relationship with God the Father. Advocates are intermediaries for justice and speak on behalf of the person they represent. The Holy Spirit, while guiding us according to the divine law, becomes a mediator between us and the Father.

whom the Father will send in my name,

God the Father sends the Holy Spirit with the authority, mediation, and merit of Jesus, the Redeemer. He has rescued us from the original sin and requests the Father to send His Spirit upon his redeemed people. Hence, Jesus also has a role in sending the Spirit. “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me” (Jn 15:26).

will teach you all things

Out of his wisdom and the fact he only knows of heaven, Jesus revealed and explained unlimited truth during the limited time of his public ministry. They were too much for the apostles to comprehend with their inadequate human capacity. The Holy Spirit would continue teaching them and reveal more about what Jesus had taught about the heavenly kingdom. “‘No one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God.’ Now God's Spirit, who reveals God, makes known to us Christ, his Word, his living Utterance” (CCC 687).

The Holy Spirit will teach “all things” that are only relevant to the disciples’ ministry. They did not fully comprehend the message and meaning of Jesus’ teachings. The disciples failed to understand the purpose of Jesus’ passion and crucifixion, and they did not believe in his resurrection when he told them. Though Jesus asked them the need of preaching to the Gentiles, they understood that only later. Some teachings of Jesus were applicable only for the future. The Spirit would reveal them at the relevant time. “When they hand you over, do not worry about how you are to speak or what you are to say. You will be given at that moment what you are to say. For it will not be you who speak but the Spirit of your Father speaking through you” (Mt 10:19-20).

remind you of all that I have told you.

Though the apostles remembered the actions and teachings of Jesus, they could not recollect all of them with their human memory. They had forgotten or considered insignificant some when Jesus told them like his prediction on his resurrection on the third day. “When he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this, and they came to believe the scripture and the word Jesus had spoken” (Jn 2:22). When Jesus entered the Temple sitting upon an ass’s clot, “His disciples did not understand this at first, but when Jesus had been glorified they remembered that these things were written about him and that they had done this for him” (Jn 12:16).

MESSAGE

1. Jesus said, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments” (Jn 14:15). Disobedient children cannot claim they love their parents. Our love of Jesus is to be expressed in following his teachings. Let us practice them, especially his commandment of the unconditional love of God and others.

2. The Holy Spirit is dwelling within us from the reception of our baptism. So, we are the living temple of God. Are we conscious of this, keep our lives holy, and honor the promptings of the Holy Spirit?

3. Jesus promised the apostles they will see him after his death. Jesus appeared to them after his resurrection, and they recognized him mainly at the breaking of the bread. We have the privilege of meeting Jesus at every Holy Mass (Qurbana) and receive him sacramentally. Let us miss no such opportunity.

4. Jesus taught the unity of the Most Holy Trinity based on mutual love, trust, and collaboration. Let us assure the unity of our families through unconditional love, mutual trust, and unselfish commitment.

5. Jesus gave us the Holy Spirit to empower us in our Christian witnessing and to teach us Jesus’ message. Let us give witness to the Lord in our lives and try to learn the Holy Scripture with the guidance of the Holy Spirit.