ACTS 15:1-2; 22-29; REV 21:10-14; 22-23; JN 14:23-29
– May Tam
Today’s Gospel Reading is part of Jesus’ Last Discourse (Chapter 14 to 17). Earlier Jesus has given His disciples a farewell gift: a new commandment of brotherly love (Jn 13:34). From this brotherly love, not only the world will see and know Jesus, but those who keep His commandment will receive further gifts from Him, gifts that in the Old Testament time only God could give.
In the Old Testament, the gauge of love is the love of God (Dt 6:5). Love of God is not about emotional or spiritual feeling but “to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes” (Dt 10:12-13) and He will love and watch over those who love Him (Prv 8:7, Ps 145:20). Jesus now connects the love of God to the love of one’s neighbor (Mt 22:36-40, Mk 12:28-31). He Himself is the yardstick in loving others. In keeping Jesus’ word, we keep God’s word (Jn 14:24; 16:15). The unity of the Father and the Son manifests itself in the Father’s love for those who now love the Son and God will not only watch over them but will make His home with them (Jn 14:21,23; Rv 21:3).
THE DIVINE INDWELLING
In the Old Testament, God dwelt among His chosen people in the tabernacle/temple (1 Kgs 8:27, Ez 37:27, Zec 2:10-13). Jesus now connects God’s presence to Himself (Mt 12:6, Jn 2:19; 14:7,9-10). After His departure from the world, through the coming of the Holy Spirit, He continues to live among those who love Him and are faithful to His word (Jn 14:16-17, 23-26). Today His abiding presence is in the Eucharist, in the Holy Scriptures and in the teachings of the Church. In baptism, Christians received not only sanctifying grace but also the divine indwelling of the Holy Trinity——God the Father (1 Jn 4:15-16), God the Son (Acts 17:28, Mt 28:20) and God the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16).
In the Old Testament, Shalom (Hebrew for peace) is not just an absence of disturbances. It includes wholeness, harmony and prosperity. God alone is understood to be the source of peace (Jgs 6:24) and God’s peace is a gift (Lv 26:6, Jn 14:27). It will only be given to those who live in righteousness (Ps 85:8-10) and those who maintain a right relationship with Him (Is 26:3; 48:22; 57:20). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6, Eph 2:14) and He will give this gift of peace to those who love Him. It is not an alleviation of temporal want or stress (Jn 14:27) but an inner peace of calmness and strength which comforts the troubled hearts and gives courage in the midst of fear (Jn 16:33, 2 Thes 3:16, Rom 5:1, Phil 4:7).
Functions of the Holy Spirit
– Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau
There are two functions of the Spirit. Let’s start from the first, to teach.
Jesus said it all; he did not leave out anything. Yet there is need that the Spirit continues to teach. Jesus was not able to explain all the consequences and the practical applications of his message. In the history of the Church—he knew it—ever new situations would arise; complex questions would come up. Consider, for example, how many real problems now wait for a light of the Gospel (bioethics, interreligious dialogue, difficult moral choices…).
Jesus assures that his disciples will always find an answer to their questions, an answer according to his teaching, if they know how to listen to his word and keep themselves in harmony with the promptings of the Spirit present in them. They must have a lot of courage to follow his instructions because, often, he will ask for changes of routes so much unexpected as radical. But the Spirit will not teach anything other than the gospel of Jesus.
In the light of other passages of Scripture, this verb “to teach” acquires a deeper sense. The Spirit does not instruct as a professor at school does when he explains the lesson. The Spirit teaches in a dynamic way, becomes an inner impulse, irresistibly induces in the right direction, stimulates the good, leads to make choices consistent with the Gospel. “He will guide you into the whole truth”—explains Jesus at the Last Supper (Jn 16:13).
The second task of the Spirit is to remind. There are many words of Jesus, that, despite being in the Gospels, run the risk of being forgotten or unmentioned. It happens, especially with those evangelical proposals that are not easy to assimilate because they are contrary to the “common sense” of the world.
An example: until a few years ago, many Christians still distinguished between just and unjust wars, and even spoke of “holy wars,” approved of the use of arms to defend their rights, supported the legitimacy of the death penalty for criminals. Today, fortunately, those who think this way are less and less.
How is it that the disciples of Christ should have forgotten for so long the clear words of the Master prohibiting all forms of violence against the brother and sister? Yet it happened. Here then is the Spirit intervening to remember, to remind the disciples of what Jesus said: “Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you… To the one who strikes you on the cheek…” (Lk 6:27-29).