6th Sunday of Easter
Jesus said to his disciples: “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.
We have been celebrating the Resurrection of Jesus for five weeks now, and more and more the question has to be, “but what is all this going to mean for us?” Well, obviously, the relevance of all this has to be that we too will be raised from the dead one day by the same power of the Lord that raised his body on Easter, the power of the Holy Spirit. But then, we have to ask, “raised from the dead for what end?” Here again the answer should be obvious, “we hope to be raised in the flesh from the dead for the same ultimate end that Jesus was raised.” And what is that? Jesus was raised not only for our salvation, but He was raised for a much higher purpose, so that, in the flesh, He will enter into the final communion with His Heavenly Father, the event that the Church will shortly celebrate in the Solemnity of the Ascension.
We too will certainly be raised, and assuming that we are raised to glory and not to condemnation (those who have done good deeds to the resurrection of life, but those who have done wicked deeds to the resurrection of condemnation. Jn. 5:29) we will not be raised in order to continue some form of earthly existence like our present life, but truly to enjoy the communion of life that Jesus already enjoys in his risen humanity in Heaven.
So how does one assure that he or she will enter, in the glorified flesh, into the company of God our Father in Christ? Jesus tells us how in today’s Gospel. There is only way to enter the Father’s company and love, and that is through Jesus Himself. By loving Jesus, the only-begotten of the Father, we begin to truly love and commune with the Father Himself. This is something Jesus said a number of times in the Gospels. In Matthew he says that no one can even know the Father unless the Son reveals Him [Mt. 11:27]. And in Luke (10:22) He tells us why this is so, for “No one knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and anyone to whom the Son wishes to reveal him.”
But it is in St. John’s Gospel that Jesus makes this point most emphatically. In John 1:18, Jesus tells us that no man has ever seen God. but then in John 3:32, Jesus insists that when he speaks about God, he is speaking about One he has actually seen, not as an ordinary man, but as the Eternal Son, and the Incarnate Word of God. This is what makes the revelation of Jesus infinitely superior to that of the Prophets of the Old Testament: they revealed what they heard; but he tells us about what he has seen, which he repeats in John 6:46: “Not that anyone has seen the Father except the one who is from God; he has seen the Father.” Then, in John 10:30, Jesus reveals to us how he sees God: “the Father and I are One.” And then again in John 14:6 we hear those familiar words which sum it all up: Jesus said to him, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
Jesus is the way to the Father because He is one with the Father, that is, Jesus is both the Truth and the Life, for that is what God is, Love, Truth, Life. Thus if we would make our way to the Father, it must be through the son, in the Son, and that is why Jesus says that the Father will come to anyone who loves Him and is true to His Word, and make that person part of His company; literally, will dwell within Him forever.
But then Jesus also tells us in today’s Gospel that no one really loves Jesus or His Father who does not struggle to do God’s will. How could the creature love God and refuse to do his Creator’s will? And that is why Jesus says that we if we truly love Him and His Father, we will keep His word, for His word is Truth, the very Truth that Jesus is in His Person. In another passage in John, Jesus identifies his words as his commandments, and connects this to remaining in Him and in the Father, “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love
But, then, how can we know for sure what Jesus’ “words” are today, what his “commandments” are today, and always, so that we can struggle to keep them? Well, in today’s Gospel and other readings, Jesus clearly tells us how we can know his words and commandments.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you. (Jn. 14:26)
This is how Jesus ensures that we can know His words and have access to Him and the Father through our obedience and love. He promises to send the Holy Spirit to instruct us in everything, so that we may know His will, and by His grace we can fulfill it and be in communion with God.
But there is one more guarantee that we can know His words with certainty, a guarantee that we can recognize the voice of the Spirit for sure. He promises to give the Spirit’s voice a human instrument as He assumed his humanity as the instrument of his saving work. He will have the Spirit speak in unison with the Church. Did he not say to the Apostles, “He who hears you hears me“? (Lk. 10:16) (Jn. 13:20 also) and then we hear these words in today’s reading from acts when the Apostles are instructing the Church in Antioch on how to follow Jesus: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us, not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities …” Notice the tandem of the Church’s decision and the Holy Spirit. When it comes to instructing us how to follow the will of the Lord, it is the Spirit who speaks in unison with and through the Church’s living Magisterium. That’s the guarantee that we can always know the will of God when it comes to the words of the Lord, his teachings, hiss commandments, and there is no other way to the Truth.
This promise and guarantee has been made good by Jesus down through the ages, as he sends His spirit to instruct and rule his Church. The Spirit is the Soul of the Church, operating through her visible members in an orderly fashion, speaking authoritatively through the bishops in union with the Pope, and enlightening the minds and hearts of the faithful to receive Christ’s word through them. There is no secret about any of this. Jesus could not have been more open about it all.
We have a well founded hope, then, that the Lord’s Resurrection will one day be ours, a hope based upon his unfailing promise to send the Holy Spirit from Heaven to guide and instruct His Church, so the members of Christ can know His words, and by His grace also keep His commandments and remain always in the love of the Trinity. That is why we can be so comforted by these words of Jesus in His Gospel today, “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.” The winds may blow and shake the Church gathered in the bark of Peter, but the Lord is in the boat, and all is under his control. Just listen to Him, to His Spirit, to His Church, and you will not be upset by the winds of falsehood proposed by false teachers who always arise to challenge the Lord and His Church.