6th Sunday of Easter
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 [John 14:23
How can anyone ever come to enjoy the company of God? Indeed, how can a lowly finite creature even dare to hope that it is possible to have such an intimate communion with the infinite and all holy God who created it from nothing? Jesus addresses this mystery in today’s Gospel; He explains that there is only way into the company of God, and that is through Jesus Himself. For what makes this most intimate and astounding communion of life and love possible is the fact that in Jesus God makes us his adopted children. Jesus is the Eternal Son of the One who is the source of all created beings, and Jesus’ being the Son teaches us that the divine person who is the infinite source of all created being must be “Father.” He is Jesus’ Father from all eternity since He communicates His uncreated being to His Son who, like Himself is also uncreated, eternal, infinite, all-holy. And He becomes our Father when the Eternal Son becomes flesh, dwells among us, dies for us and is raised up so that we might become united to Him; and through Him, and in Him, we truly become true sons and daughters of His Heavenly Father.
All of this good news is contained in the very mystery of His resurrection that we are presently celebrating now for many weeks. The Church is so filled with joy at this great mystery of our adoption by God the Father, that she celebrates the resurrection for almost two months, and soon she will celebrate the mystery of Pentecost where the mystery of our adoption goes even deeper, and we see how it takes place in the Spirit, and how we are taught and guided and strengthened by the grace of this same Spirit as we make our way to our Heavenly homeland and that final resting place in God, Our Father.
Jesus comments on this way to communion with the Father, in Him, in today’s Gospel where he teaches that He Himself is the way, and that only if we keep his word will He and the Father come to us and make their dwelling in us. So. it is not we who establish this deep communion with God, but God who establishes this communion in us. And this communion takes place only within the bond of love simply because this communion ultimately is a sharing in the mutual love of the Father and the Son. So Jesus says “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” and then follows with “and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Love here is not simply a pre-condition for this intimate communion; love is the very substance of this communion, just as Love is the very substance of the eternal communion between the Son and the Father.
But there is an order in the unfolding of this mystery of our insertion into the communion of love that forever unites the Father and the Son. In this process of our sharing communion with the Father, as Jesus does in an infinitely greater way, it is by loving Jesus, the only-begotten of the Father, that we begin to truly love the Father Himself, as Father. Nor is this “sole mediation” of Jesus something Jesus spoke about only once, but he asserts it many times in the Gospels. For instance, in the Gospel of Matthew Jesus says that no one can even know the Father, as Father, unless the Son reveals Him [11:27]. And In Luke Jesus tells us that “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.” [10:22] In other words, knowledge of the Father, as Father, can only come through knowing the Son as Son, and only Jesus can reveal this intimate knowledge because He alone is eternally in such an intimacy with the Father. This knowing the Father, as Father, is a knowledge based solely upon that intimacy itself, the kind of knowledge we experience through such intimacy, as in Marriage, or in the heights of prayer.
But it is in St. John’s Gospel that Jesus makes this point most emphatically. In John 1:18 he tells us that no man has ever seen God, yet in John 3:32 Jesus insists that when He speaks about God, His Father, He is speaking about what He has actually “seen”, not simply as man, but as the Eternal Son and the Incarnate Word of God. This is what makes the revelation of Jesus infinitely superior to even that of the greatest prophets of the Old Testament: they revealed what they only “heard”; but Jesus tells us about what He has actually “seen.” And He repeats this most important truth 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, He tells us why he actually “sees” God – for “the Father and I are One.” And finally in John 14:6, we hear these familiar words which summarizes this great mystery that you an I are caught up in by our Baptism: Jesus says there: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”
So, Jesus is the way to the Father because He is forever one with the Father; that is, Jesus is both the Truth and the Life, for that is what John insists God is – Love, Truth, Life. Thus if we would make our way to the Father, it must be through the son, and in the Son, and that is why Jesus insists that the Father will come to anyone who loves Jesus and is true to His Word, and the Father make that person part of His company, quite literally He will dwell within Him forever.
No one really loves God 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, then we will keep His word, for His word is truth, because He is the Son who receives everything from the Father. And indeed He goes further and promises to send the Holy Spirit to instruct us in everything, so that we can know His will, and The Spirit will become in us the source of an unending flow of supernatural graces which will enable us to keep Jesus’s word.
Now this consoling promise that Jesus will give us His Spirit, as companion, guide and source of strength, has been made good by Jesus down through the ages, as he continually sends His Spirit forth to instruct and rule his Church and her faithful members. The Spirit is the very 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. There is no secret about any of this, Jesus could not have been more open about it all. To be one with Christ means to be one with His Father and with His mystical body, which is the Church.
But just as there were those who saw his miracles and heard his preaching, and yet steadfastly refused to believe in Him, so today, and in every age, there are those who read the Scriptures and hear the preaching of the Church, and still do not recognize His voice and His Spirit in their dual witness. In the Book of Revelations, we read the following: The Spirit and the bride say, “Come.” The Bride is Christ’s Church, and in union with the Spirit, the Church reveals Christ and His love to the world. Because the Bride is one with her Bridegroom, only she as a collective body truly loves him with the perfect love that leads to the Father. Only in and through her can we thus love Christ and keep his word, and in her be so intimately united to Christ that we enter into the company of the Most Holy Trinity.
Here we arrive at the very heart of the mystery of Christ and His Church. Christ is the Bridegroom of the Church, and it is this great corporate reality that is most truly the Bride of Christ. Christ loved her and gave his life for her, that she might become one flesh with Him for all eternity. Thus salvation is found in her alone simply because she alone is fully one with her Bridegroom, one flesh, one single mystical reality. She alone fully knows Christ and she alone loves Him with same kind of love He has for her, the love unto death that is seen in a particular way in her martyrs. But the whole Church loves Christ in this way, as He has loved us, unto death. There is no other way to the Father than through this love of the Son, the love which we discover and learn only in the Bride, who is at once our Mother and our sister, for we are her children and her members.
The mystery of the Resurrection, then, culminates in the Mystery of the Church, which we will joyfully celebrate on the coming Feast of Pentecost. We are brought to life through Christ’s death and resurrection. It is the very same love that unites Christ and His Bride that raises the Bride and her children from the dead, first from the death of sin and one day from death and the tomb. It is this same love that unites us with the Father in the Son, and we learn to live this love only from the heart of the Bride, from her Apostles, her martyrs, her confessors, her virgins, all her saints, men and women through the ages who have loved Christ with the same sacrificial love that redeemed us all in Christ. It is precisely that love that we must learn to live by in this world if we would become forever part of the great communion of God and His children.