6th Sunday of Easter (C)
///John 14:23-29 | 6th Sunday of Easter Commentary – Advocate Holy Spirit
///John 14:23-29 | 6th Sunday of Easter Commentary – Advocate Holy Spirit
Homilies | John 14:23-29
Gospel commentary excerpts from a variety of sources.
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Jesus’ Farewell Discourses
SERMON WRITER – Jesus’ death is imminent, but his concern is for the disciples rather than himself. He reassures them that they will not be alone, and promises them peace. He offers hope not only to his immediate disciples but also to all who love him and keep his word (v. 23).
John 13:31 – 16:33 is a series of discourses (speeches) by Jesus, which together are commonly thought of as Jesus’ Farewell Discourse. This is followed by Jesus’ High Priestly Prayer (17:1-26). The farewell address is a common literary form found in both testaments (Genesis 49; Deuteronomy 33; 1 Chronicles 28-29; Joshua 23:24; Acts 20; 2 Peter). The typical farewell address is given by a person facing death, and includes blessings, exhortations, and the naming of a successor.
Obedience (v 23a)
Whoever loves me,
will keep my word
SERMON WRITER – This Gospel begins with the proclamation, “In the beginning was the Word (logos), and the Word was with God, and the Word was God” (1:1).
- Jesus is the logos, or the faithful expression, of God. The logos that he brings is not his creation, but “the Father’s who sent me” (v. 24).
- Jesus calls us to demonstrate our love by keeping his word. As he reflects God’s image by faithfully obeying God’s will, he calls us to reflect his image by obeying his will.
Love is at the heart of Jesus’ word. Jesus has just given the disciples a new commandment, “that you love one another, just like I have loved you; that you also love one another” (13:34; see also 14:15; 15:12). Keeping Jesus’ word means, at a minimum, loving one another.
Clipart by Fr. Richard Lonsdale © 2000. Click image to view more clipart for this Sunday.
God’s Dwelling (v 23b)
We will come to him, and
make our dwelling with him.
The Greek word monai
SERMON WRITER – Jesus promised the disciples a home in heaven, “In my Father’s house there are many monai (dwelling places or rooms). If it weren’t so, I would have told you. I am going to prepare a place for you.” In verse 23, he promises that the Father and Son will make their home with us where we are. Therefore, whether in heaven or on earth, God is with us. As Paul says, “if therefore we live or die, we are the Lord’s” (Romans 14:8).
Old Testament roots
SERMON WRITER – God’s promise to dwell in the midst of his people has its roots in the Old Testament (1 Kings 8:27; Ezekiel 37:27; Zechariah 2:10), and was displayed visually in the form of the tabernacle and temple. While these buildings were made with human hands (2 Corinthians 5:1), they were nevertheless holy beyond measure, because God dwelt there in the Holy of Holies. Only the high priest is permitted access to the Holy of Holies, and he only once a year, on the Day of Atonement. At Jesus’ death, the veil guarding the Holy of Holies will be rent from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45), signaling that all the people of God, and not just the high priest, have full access to the presence of God.
CHRISTOPHER WEST – In the Old Testament the idea of God’s dwelling passes through the mystery of the ark and the tabernacle to the Temple and the holy of holies. All of these mysteries culminate in Mary who, by conceiving the Son of God in her womb, became the dwelling place of God.
Jesus speaks of himself as a temple
SERMON WRITER – In the New Testament, Jesus speaks of himself as a temple (Matthew 12:6; John 2:19). Paul speaks of Christians as God’s temple (1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16). In this verse, Jesus promises that both he and the Father will “come to (those who love him and keep his word) and make our home with (them).” Just as the Father dwelled in the tabernacle and temple, so also the Father and Son dwell in us.
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – But how is the dwelling with His New Covenant people that Jesus speaks of different from the Old Testament presence of Yahweh over the Ark of the Covenant in the Holy of Holies of the desert Tabernacle and the Temple in Jerusalem? In this passage, Jesus is referring to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in the tabernacle of the human body, which is the soul of every believer renewed by grace. It is the promise of the New Covenant: the presence of God in each believer. What Jesus tells them recalls the prophecy made to the sixth century BC prophet Ezekiel: I shall make my sanctuary among them forever (Ez 37:26c NJB). In his letters, St. Paul repeatedly refers to the indwelling presence of God for those who profess faith in Jesus Christ and are baptized into a new life, becoming temples of the Holy Spirit:
- Do you not realize that you are a temple of God with the Spirit of God living in you? (2 Cor 3:16)
- You are built upon the foundations of the apostles and prophets, and Christ Jesus himself is the cornerstone. Every structure knit together in him grows into a holy temple in the Lord; and you too, in him, are being built up into a dwelling-place of God in the Spirit. (Eph 2:20-22)
- The temple of God cannot compromise with false gods, and that is what we are, the temple of the living God. We have God’s word for it: “I shall fix my home among them and live among them; I will be their God and they will be my people. Get away from them, purify yourselves, says the Lord. Do not touch anything unclean, and then I shall welcome you. I shall be father to you, and you will be sons and daughters to me,” says the almighty Lord. (2 Cor 6:16-18 where St. Paul quotes from Lev 26:11-12, Ez 37:27, Is 52:11, and 2 Sam 7:14)
Importance of the community of faith
SERMON WRITER – Jesus makes this promise to the church, the community of faith, rather than to individuals. Throughout these verses, “you” is plural (O’Day, 749). This is an important insight for an age that glorifies the individual. We are tempted to celebrate individual spirituality and to downplay the role of the church, but the church is the body of Christ, the agency through which God chooses to dispense blessings and to keep promises. We cannot honor the head (Christ) while despising the body (the church). Cyprian said, “Who has not the Church for mother can no longer have God for father.” His wording might be a little sharp, but only a little.
God is within us
MSGR. JOSEPH PELLEGRINO – This instruction from today’s Gospel builds on the statement of faith found in the Prologue of that same Gospel, the Gospel of John. The central message of the Prologue is the Incarnation of the Lord: “The Word became flesh and dwelt among us.” The exact translation is that “He pitched his tent among us.” In our modern terms, this would be, “ He moved into the house down the street.” Today’s Gospel takes the dwelling of God on earth to a deeper level. He is not just among us. He is within us. He is within us as a worshiping Body, the Church. He is within us in the union of all believers into the Mystical Body of Christ. He is all this and much more. He is within each of us. We can speak to God all day, not addressing ourselves to some being “out there somewhere,” not even addressing ourselves to “the man upstairs.” We can speak to God within us.
Jesus’ Promise (v. 26)
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything
Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, Helper
SERMON WRITER – Jesus assures the disciples that he will not leave them alone. The word, parakletos is translated variously as Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, or Helper, and describes a Spirit who remains at our side forever (v. 16) to represent us, defend us, argue our case, give peace, or provide counsel as needed. Unlike defense lawyers today, who are not responsible for revealing truth but instead must try to secure a favorable verdict for their client, the parakletos whom Jesus introduces here “is the Spirit of truth” (v. 17). The parakletos is someone (a counselor, advocate, helper) called in to help a person in need (Barclay, 194). The Paraclete gives us peace, because we know that our Advocate, Comforter, Counselor, and Helper is always present with us.
Jesus’ Peace (v. 27)
Peace, I leave with you… not as the world gives
Pax Romana vs. Jesus’ Peace
SERMON WRITER – At this time, the world is enjoying a kind of peace—the pax Romana—the Roman peace. The pax Romana, however, was founded on Roman military prowess, funded by Roman taxation, and maintained by Roman soldiers. It is dominance rather than peace. Many people chaff under Roman rule and want to expel Roman occupiers from their midst, but Rome has the power to crush rebellion—and uses that power ruthlessly.
By contrast, Christ offers real peace. We see it in the lives of those who have entrusted their lives to Christ. We envy their calm strength. Their creed is, “If God is for us, who can be against us,” (Romans 8:31)—and they have peace.
But Jesus does not offer a life without hardship. As he makes this promise, Jesus is on his way to the cross. His disciples will soon face opposition from powerful enemies (Kostenberger, 444).
AGAPE BIBLE STUDY – Shalom, “peace” in Hebrew and Aramaic, was both a greeting and a farewell (see Lk 10:5 and 2 Thes 3:16). In Hebrew, this word not only means the absence of conflict but also the health, wholeness, and integrity that comes from God. In preparing for His exodus/departure from this life (crucifixion and death), Jesus is giving a blessing to the disciples of His own personal “peace,” a supernatural “peace” that only comes from the indwelling of Christ in the soul of every believer.
22. Judas saith unto him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that thou wilt manifest thyself unto us, and not unto the world?
23. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love me, he will keep my words: and my Father will love him, and we will come unto him, and make our abode with him.
24. He that loveth me not keepeth not my sayings: and the word which ye hear is not mine, but the Father’s which sent me.
25. These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you.
26. But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
27. Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, give I unto you.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvi. 1) Our Lord having said, A little while, and the world seeth Me no more: but ye shall see Me: Judas, not the traitor named Scariot, but he whose Epistle is read among the Canonical Scriptures, asks His meaning: Judas saith unto Him, not Iscariot, Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? Our Lord in reply explains why He manifests Himself to His own, and not to aliens, viz. because the one love Him, the other do not. Jesus answered and said unto him, If a man love Me, he will keep My words.
GREGORY. (Hom. xxx. in Evang.) If thou wouldest prove thy love, shew thy works. The love of God is never idle; whenever it is, it doeth great things: if it do not work, it is not.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvi. 2) Love distinguishes the saints from the world: it maketh men to be of one mind in an house; in which house the Father and the Son take their abode; who give that love to those, to whom in the end they will manifest themselves. For there is a certain inner manifestation of God, unknown to the ungodly, to whom there is no manifestation made of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and only could be of the Son in the flesh; which latter manifestation is not as the former, being only for a little while, not for ever, for judgment, not for joy, for punishment, not for reward. And We will come unto him: They come to us, in that we go to Them; They come by succouring, we go by obeying; They come by enlightening, we go by contemplating; They come by filling, we go by holding: so Their manifestation to us is not external, but inward; Their abode in us not transitory, but eternal. It follows, And will make Our abode with him.
GREGORY. (Hom. xxx.) Into some hearts He cometh, but not to make His abode with them. For some feel compunction for a season and turn to God, but in time of temptation forget that which gave them compunction, and return to their former sins, just as if they had never lamented them. But whoso loveth God truly, into his heart the Lord both comes, and also makes His abode therein: for the love of the Godhead so penetrates him, that no temptation withdraws him from it. He truly loves, whose mind no evil pleasure overcomes, through his consent thereto.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvi. 4) But while the Father and the Son make Their abode with the loving soul, is the Holy Spirit excluded? What meaneth that which is said of the Holy Spirit above: He dwelleth with you, and shall be in you, but that the Spirit makes His abode with us? Unless indeed a man be so absurd as to think that when the Father and the Son come, the Holy Spirit departs, as if to give place to His superiors. Yet even this carnal thought is met by Scripture, in that it says, Abide with you for ever. (v.16) He will therefore be in the same abode with Them for ever. As He did not come without Them, so neither They without Him. As a consequence of the Trinity, acts are sometimes attributed to single persons in it: but the substance of the same Trinity demands, that in such acts the presence of the other Persons also be implied.
GREGORY. (Hom. xxx.) In proportion as a man’s love rests upon lower things, in that proportion is he removed from heavenly love: He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My sayings. To the love then of our Maker, let the tongue, mind, life bear witness.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 1, 2) Or thus: Judas thought that he should see Him, as we see the dead in sleep: How is it, that Thou wilt manifest Thyself unto us, and not unto the world? meaning, Alas, as Thou art to die, Thou wilt appear to us but as one dead. To correct this mistake, He says, I and My Father will come to him, i. e. I shall manifest Myself, even as My Father manifests Himself. And will make our abode with Him; which is not like a dream. It follows, And the word which ye hear is not Mine, but the Father’s which sent Me; i. e. He that heareth not My words, inasmuch as he loveth not Me, so loveth he not My Father. This He says to shew that He spoke nothing which was not the Father’s, nothing beside what seemed good to the Father.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvi. 5) And perhaps there is a distinction at bottom, since He speaks of His sayings, when they are His own, in the plural number; as when He says, He that loveth Me not, keepeth not My sayings: when they are not His own, but the Father’s, in the singular, i. e. as the Word, which is Himself. For He is not His own Word, but the Father’s, as He is not His own image, but the Father’s, or His own Son, but the Father’s.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 3) These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you. Some of these things were obscure, and not understood by the disciples.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvii. 1) The abode He promised them hereafter is altogether a different one from this present abode He now speaks of. The one is spiritual and inward, the other outward, and perceptible to the bodily sight and hearing.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 3) To enable them to sustain His bodily departure more cheerfully, He promises that that departure shall be the source of great benefit; for that while He was then in the body, they could never know much, because the Spirit would not have come: But the Comforter, which is the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.
GREGORY. (Hom. xxx. in Evang.) Paraclete is Advocate, or Comforter. The Advocate then intercedes with the Father for sinners, when by His inward power He moves the sinner to pray for himself. The Comforter relieves the sorrow of penitents, and cheers them with the hope of pardon.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 3) He often calls Him the Comforter, in allusion to the affliction in which they then were.
DIDYMUS. (Didym. de Spir. Sancto, l. ii. inter opera Hieron.) The Saviour affirms that the Holy Spirit is sent by the Father, in His, the Saviour’s, name; which name is the Son. Here an agreement of nature and propriety1, so to speak, of persons is shewn. The Son can come in the Father’s name only, consistently with the proper1 relationship of the Son to the Father, and the Father to the Son. No one else comes in the name of the Father, but in the name of God, of the Lord, of the Almighty, and the like. As servants who come in the name of their Lord, do so as being the servants of that Lord, so the Son who comes in the name of the Father, bears that name as being the acknowledged only-begotten Son of the Father. That the Holy Spirit then is sent in the Son’s name, by the Father, shews that He is in unity with the Son: whence He is said too to be the Spirit of the Son, and to make those sons by adoption, who are willing to receive Him. The Holy Spirit then, Who cometh in the name of the Son from the Father, shall teach them, who are established in the faith of Christ, all things; all things which are spiritual, both the understanding of truth, and the sacrament of wisdom. But He will teach not like those who have acquired an art or knowledge by study and industry, but as being the very art, doctrine, knowledge itself. As being this Himself, the Spirit of truth will impart the knowledge of divine things to the mind.
GREGORY. (Hom. xxx.) Unless the Spirit be present to the mind of the hearer, the word of the teacher is vain. Let none then attribute to the human teacher, the understanding which follows in consequence of his teaching: for unless there be a teacher within, the tongue of the teacher outside will labour in vain. Nay even the Maker Himself does not speak for the instruction of man, unless the Spirit by His unction speaks at the same time.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvii. 2) So then the Son speaks, the Holy Spirit teaches: when the Son speaks we take in the words, when the Holy Spirit teaches, we understand those words. The whole Trinity indeed both speaks and teaches, but unless each person worked separately as well, the whole would be too much for human infirmity to take in.
GREGORY. (Hom. xxx.) But why is it said of the Spirit, He shall suggest2 all things to you: to suggest being the office of an inferior? The word is used here, as it is used sometimes, in the sense of supplying secretly. The invisible Spirit suggests, not because He takes a lower place in teaching, but because. He teaches secretly.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. xxvii. 2) Suggest, i. e. bring to your remembrance. Every wholesome hint to remember that we receive is of the grace of the Spirit.
THEOPHYLACT. The Holy Spirit then was both to teach and to bring to remembrance: to teach what Christ had forborne to tell His disciples, because they were not able to bear it; to bring to remembrance what Christ had told them, but which on account of its difficulty, or their slowness of understanding, they were unable to remember.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxiv. 3) Peace I leave with you, My peace I give unto you: He says this to console His disciples, who were now troubled at the prospect of the hatred and opposition which awaited them after His departure.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxvii. 2) He left no peace in this world; in which we conquer the enemy, and have love one to another: He will give us peace in the world to come, when we shall reign without an enemy, and where we shall be able to avoid disagreement. This peace is Himself, both when we believe that He is, and when we shall see Him as He is. But why does He say, Peace I leave with you, without the My, whereas He puts in My in, My peace I give unto you? Are we to understand My in the former; or is it not rather left out with a meaning? His peace is such peace as He has Himself; the peace which He left us in this world is rather our peace than His. He has nothing to fight against in Himself, because He has no sin: but ours is a peace in which we still say, Forgive us our debts. (Matt. 6:12) And in like manner we have peace between ourselves, because we mutually trust one another, that we mutually love one another. But neither is that a perfect peace; for we do not see into each other’s minds. I could not deny however that these words of our Lord’s may be understood as a simple repetition. He adds, Not as the world giveth, give I unto you: i. e. not as those men, who love the world, give. They give themselves peace, i. e. free, uninterrupted enjoyment of the world. And even when they allow the righteous peace, so far as not to persecute them, yet there cannot be true peace, where there is no true agreement, no union of heart.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 3) External peace is often even hurtful, rather than profitable to those who enjoy it.
AUGUSTINE. (de Verb. Dom. serm. ix) But there is a peace which is serenity of thought, tranquillity of mind, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the fellowship of charity. None will be able to come to the inheritance of the Lord who do not observe this testament of peace; none be friends with Christ, who are at enmity with the Christians.
27. Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.
28. Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again unto you. If ye loved me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto the Father: for my Father is greater than I.
29. And now I have told you before it come to pass, that, when it is come to pass, ye might believe.
30. Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.
31. But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 3) After saying, Peace I leave with you, which was like taking farewell, He consoles them: Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid: the two feelings of love and fear were now the uppermost in them.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxviii. 1) Though He was only going for a time, their hearts would be troubled and afraid for what might happen before He returned; lest in the absence of the Shepherd the wolf might attack the flock: Ye have heard how I said unto you, I go away, and come again to you. In that He was man, He went: in that He was God, He stayed. Why then be troubled and afraid, when He left the eye only, not the heart? To make them understand that it was as man that He said, I go away, and come again to you; He adds, If ye loved Me ye would rejoice, because I said, I go unto My Father; for My Father is greater than I. In that the Son then is unequal with the Father, through that inequality He went to the Father, from Him to come again to judge the quick and dead: in that He is equal to the Father, He never goes from the Father, but is every where altogether with Him in that Godhead, which is not confined to place. Nay, the Son Himself, because that being equal to the Father in the form of God, He emptied Himself, not losing the form of God, but taking that of a servant, is greater even than Himself: the form of God which is not lost, is greater than the form of a servant which was put on. In this form of a servant, the Son of God is inferior not to the Father only, but to the Holy Ghost; in this the Child Christ was inferior even to His parents; to whom we read, He was subject. Let us acknowledge then the twofold substance of Christ, the divine, which is equal to the Father, and the human, which is inferior. But Christ is both together, not two, but one Christ: else the Godhead is a quaternity, not a Trinity. Wherefore He says, If ye loved Me, ye would rejoice, because I said, I go to the Father; for human nature should exult at being thus taken up by the Only Begotten Word, and made immortal in heaven; at earth being raised to heaven, and dust sitting incorruptible at the right hand of the Father. Who, that loves Christ, will not rejoice at this, seeing, as he doth, his own nature immortal in Christ, and hoping that He Himself will be so by Christ.
HILARY. (de Trin. ix) Or thus: If the Father is greater by virtue of giving, is the Son less by confessing the gift? The giver is the greater, but He to whom unity with that giver is given, is not the less.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxv. 4) Or thus: The Apostles did not yet know what the resurrection was of which He spoke when He said, I go, and come again to you; or what they ought to think of it. They only knew the great power of the Father. So He tells them: Though ye fear I shall not be able to save Myself, and do not trust to My appearing again after My crucifixion; yet when ye hear that I go to My Father, ye should rejoice, because I go to one greater, one able to dissolve and change all things. All this is said in accommodation to their weakness: as we see from the next words; And now I have told you before it come to pass; that when it does come to pass, ye may believe.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxix. 1) But is not the time for belief before a thing takes place? Is it not the praise of faith, that it believes what it does not see? according to what is said below to Thomas: Because thou hast seen, thou hast believed. He saw one thing, believed another: what he saw was man, what he believed was God. And if belief can be talked of with reference to things seen, as when we say that we believe our eyes; yet it is not mature faith, but is merely preparatory to our believing what we do not see. When it has come to pass; then He says, because after His death they would see Him alive again, and ascending to His Father; which sight would convince them that He was the Christ, the Son of God; able as He was to do so great a thing, and to foretell it. Which faith however would not be a new, but only an enlarged faith; or a faith which had failed at His death, and been renewed by His resurrection.
HILARY. (ix. de Trin) He next alludes to the approach of the time when He would resume His glory. Hereafter I will not talk much with you.
BEDE. He says this because the time was now approaching for His being taken, and given up to death: For the Prince of this world cometh.
AUGUSTINE. (Tract. lxxix. 2) i. e. the devil; the prince of sinners, not of creatures; as the Apostle saith, Against the rulers of this world. (Eph. 6:12) Or, as He immediately adds by way of explanation, this darkness, meaning, the ungodly. And hath nothing in Me. God had no sin as God, nor had His flesh contracted it by a sinful birth, being born of the Virgin. But how, it might be asked, canst thou die, if thou hast no sin: He answers, But that the world may know that I love the Father, and as the Father gave Me commandment, even so I do. Arise, let us go hence. He had been sitting at table with them all this time. Let us go: i. e. to the place, where He, Who had done nothing to deserve death, was to be delivered to death. But He had a commandment from His Father to die.
AUGUSTINE. (contr. Serm. Arrian. c. xi.) That the Son is obedient to the will and commandment of the Father, no more shews a difference in the two, than it would in a human father and son. But over and above this comes the consideration that Christ is not only God, and as such equal to the Father, but also man, and as such inferior to the Father.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. lxxvi. 1) Arise, let us go hence, is the beginning of the sentence which follows. The time and the place (they were in the midst of a town, and it was night time) had excited the disciples’ fears to such a degree, that they could not attend to any thing that was said, but rolled their eyes about, expecting persons to enter and assault them; especially when they heard our Lord say, Yet a little while I am with you; and, The prince of this world cometh. To quiet their alarm then, He takes them to another place, where they imagine themselves safe, and would be able to attend to the great doctrines which He was going to set before them.
SOURCE: ECATHOLIC 2000 Commentary in public domain.