What follows is a reading of the latter half of the fifteenth chapter of St. Johnís Gospel. In the preceding verses, our Savior Jesus Christ taught the Apostles of the relationship between Himself and themselves (and the rest of us) under the image of "the vine and the branches." The branches take their life from it and cease to live if separated from it. Our divine Master instructs us, the branches, that our spiritual lives depend upon our abiding in Him, the Vine, which means being in the Church and in the state of grace.
John 15:7. "If you abide in Me and My words abide in you, you shall ask whatever you will: and it shall be done unto you."
If you are one with Christ in His truth and charity, you will ask for what you ought, and it will be given. You will not ask for useless and ephemeral things, but for the graces you need to grow in virtue and advance toward Heaven. You will not ask for freedom from suffering, but the grace to bear it; you will not ask for trinkets and trifles and toys. Union with Christ will give you a proper spiritual perspective on all things. When God does not give us specifically what we ask for, it is because He judges that we should be asking for something more necessary to us and more in accord with His designs for us.
John 15:8. "In this is My Father glorified: that you bring forth very much fruit and become My disciples."
The Apostles do not realize how they have changed over the last three and a half years. They have become very spiritual men, whose lives are centered in Jesus. They have become very detached from the world; they have learned ready obedience to, and great confidence in, Him. They truly love Him with a religious love. The fruit which Christ foresees from them is strong faith, courage, zeal, and most generous service to the Church. That the Apostles attain the stature that has been predestinated for them is essential for the successful foundation of the Church.
John 15:9. "As the Father hath loved Me, I also have loved you. Abide in My love."
The love which Christ bears the Apostles is most special because they have "left all things and followed Him." In their discipleship, there are no earthly benefits, even though they have not completely graduated from the idea that His "Kingdom" will bring Him and them political power. Jesus has ever before His mind what they all will suffer, how they will profess Him, what great labors they will perform for Him.
To abide in His love is constancy in the state of grace, resistance to temptation, loving communion with Him. Every mature Christian knows how many things can happen to threaten or challenge this supernatural relationship. Jesus cherishes those who remain faithful to Him through every difficulty, temporal and spiritual. There are some hardships, losses, disappointments, deprivations, for which some individuals do not forgive God; when they experience them, they blame God and complain to Him, sometimes abandon Him altogether. When they do this last, they are simply jumping the tracks, using Godís treatment of them as an excuse for proclaiming their independence and plunging into self-indulgence. Pride inspires people to imagine that God does not treat them as lovingly and as generously as they deserve.
John 15:10. "If you keep My commandments, you shall abide in My love: as I also have kept My Father's commandments and do abide in His love."
Keeping Christís commandments is the good Catholic life, a life free of worldliness and indulgence, and one oriented toward God in charity and fidelity to the Church. Christís life on earth was one of servile obedience to His Father, to Whom He was equal in His Godhood.
John 15:11. "These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and your joy may be filled."
Joy is the fruit of the Holy Ghost which Christ sincerely desires for every man. One can possess joy in the midst of the most terrible trials, provided one abides in Christ and recognizes that divine intimacy is the source of unassailable joy. Do not be impatient for this gift; it will be granted to you only after you have become detached from earthly vanities and pleasures, and your own will.
John 15:12. "This is My commandment, that you love one another, as I have loved you."
This injunction is unknown in any other religion. It is in the Old Testament, but the Pharisees taught the people that it did not apply to gentiles, nor to those who did not keep the law as they interpreted it. These deserved not the least kindly consideration, but contempt.
Such a counsel is additional proof of the supreme excellence of our holy religion. The Apostles did love one another, which is why they did not fall into rivalries and initiate factions in the Church (the way human beings are wont to do in any organization). And they taught those who believed them to do the same. Mutual charity is the strength and unity of the Church, the unique mark of the Christian people, and an irresistible attraction to nonbelievers. One cannot help but observe that in the Conciliar revolution, Christian charity has been markedly absent, though it is alluded to incessantly.
This was one of the damning defects of the Second Vatican Council, as it is of the Conciliar Church, the glaring want of Christian charity. Christian Charity, the love which our Lord speaks of here, is the sincere desire that the one loved attain his salvation, and the willingness to do everything necessary to help bring this about. The Liberal Council Fathers gave no thought to what their reforms would do to the Church and the faithful, which should have been their first consideration. They were resolved on gathering enough votes for their schemata, which contained the verbiage which would legalize the gradual "democratizing" of its structure, the corrupting of its kerygma, and the trashing of its traditions. Whatever the language of its decrees, the result was a movement which, on the pretext of placating the hitherto abused faithful, and winning Protestants, effectively destroyed traditional teaching and discipline, and disarmed the Church against its inveterate enemies. By now, those who have kept the Faith have been disowned and dispossessed. Whereas the Spirit of Pentecost united the followers of Christ in a joyful community, whose distinguishing attribute was fraternal charity in Christ, the predominant atmosphere of the Conciliar Church is a cynical disdain for all things Catholic, and a peevish irritation with those who refuse to assent to its iconoclasm. Conciliarists, because they are in the majority and hold the reins of power, suffer no scruples either over their intransigence toward faithful Catholics, or their distortion of every law and Commandment to accommodate the errant and the unbelieving. It takes no great perspicacity to perceive that our all-wise Father, in this era, is putting His chosen ones to the test, to see who will be true to Him and who will go over to the side of His modern day persecutors.
John 15:13. "Greater love than this no man hath, that a man lay down his life for his friends."
Some have said that a greater charity is to lay down oneís life for oneís enemies. Christ, Who is God, considered no one who could be saved as anything other than His beloved child, who required the care that a shepherd gives his sheep. And besides enunciating this sublime principle He actually did so, sacrifice Himself even for those who, with unrelenting ire, murdered Him with utmost cruelty.
John 15:14-15. "You are My friends, if you do the things that I command you. I will not now call you servants: for the servant knoweth not what his lord doth. But I have called you friends. because all things, whatsoever I have heard of My Father, I have made known to you."
We see in subsequent events how truly Christ considered the Apostles His friends, and not merely His servants. We may say that, all things considered, the blessed Christ could not have shown greater love and favor toward these men. He made them His "Other Christs," (Alter Christi) the pillars of His Church, His spokesmen and emissaries to the whole world, and the judges of His own nation of Israel. He gave them His sacred priesthood, personal infallibility, the power of miracles, dominance over evil spirits, and authority over all who believed in Him. All who enter into the sacred priesthood share these prerogatives to a greater or less extent.
John 15:16. "You have not chosen Me: but I have chosen you; and have appointed you, that you should go and should bring forth fruit; and your fruit should remain: that whatsoever you shall ask of the Father in My name, He may give it you."
The Apostles were predestined from all eternity to represent Christ as no others could. This is the reason why in Heaven they have a place distinguished among all the other saints.
"And should bring forth fruit" The "fruit" of their work was their tireless labors amidst untold hardships and deprivations, which resulted in the establishment of the Church throughout the world. Until the time for their martyrdom came, they were specially protected: they could suffer every kind of abuse and calumny, but they were invincible. In the First Letter to the Corinthinians St. Paul wrote concerning himself and the other Apostles:
"For I think that God hath set forth us apostles, the last, as it were men appointed to death. We are made a spectacle to the world and to angels and to men. We are fools for Christ's sake, but you are wise in Christ: we are weak, but you are strong: you are honorable, but we without honor. Even unto this hour we both hunger and thirst and are naked and are buffeted and have no fixed abode. And we labor, working with our own hands. We are reviled: and we bless. We are persecuted: and we suffer it. We are blasphemed: and we entreat. We are made as the refuse of this world, the offscouring of all, even until now" (1 Corinthians 4:9-13).
The reason we think of these things is to be reminded that everyone who fulfills the will of God is treated specially and greatly honored by Him, even if this is hidden from the eyes of men.
John 15:17-18. "These things I command you, that you love one another.
If the world hate you, know ye that it hath hated Me before you."
It is impossible not to be touched by the pathos of these words. The God Man, Who has done nothing but good on earth, and Who will, within a few hours, give His life for menís salvation, has become the object of menís hatred. He tells His beloved Apostles that another of their privileges will be to suffer the hatred directed against Him. Those of us who have remained faithful to His teaching enjoy the same privilege.
John 15:19. "If you had been of the world, the world would love its own: but because you are not of the world, but I have chosen you out of the world, therefore the world hateth you."
Here again the Lord draws the clear distinction between those who are His and "the world," those within and those "outside." These words are particularly applicable to our present situation. Conciliarists love everyone except those who are faithful to Christ. And in return, "the world," the enemies of Christ and the Church, loves them. While the children of the world continue to defame and rage against the Church, they find perfect compatibility with our Conciliar ravagers. Indeed, some of those who manifest the greatest rancor toward the Church are her own children, who now delight in shocking and scandalizing everyone by their ridicule, immorality, and Ultraliberalism. I refer to those obnoxious zealots who condone homosexuality, sexual perversion, "same-sex marriages," and blasphemy toward Christ, Mary, and every holy doctrine.
John 15:20. "Remember My word that I said to you: The servant is not greater than his master. If they have persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they have kept My word, they will keep yours also."
We remember how the Apostles, when they were scourged by the Jews, returned to the others "rejoicing that they had been accounted worthy to suffer reproach for the name of Jesus" (Acts 5:41). Those of the world protest longum et latum that every man has the right to his opinion and to live his life as he chooses. But they mean this only with regard to their own kind. With regard to Christ and His teaching, they can have no tolerance, because the Truth condemns them, and leaves them without excuse. Christ and the Church pronounce that only His truth has rights, and the personal views and opinions of men on religious matters are anathema. Wherever the children of this world have the power to do so, they must perforce silence and defame true Christians. There can be no mutuality or peace between Christians and them, because the two parties are at odds on all counts. Indeed, Naturalists deny the whole supernatural world, which is the Kingdom of God. This is what Simeon meant when he said that the child of Mary would be "for a sign of contradiction," (Luke 2:24)., and why our Savior said: "Do not think that I came to send peace upon earth: I came not to send peace, but the sword. For I came to set a man at variance against his father, and the daughter against her mother, and the daughter in law against her mother in law. And a man's enemies shall be they of his own household" (Matthew 10:34-36).
John 15:21. "But all these things they will do to you for My name's sake: because they know not Him that sent Me."
The persecutors of Christís followers know nothing of the true God, even if they think and say they do. Jesus says that "they know not Him that sent Me," meaning that their evil intent blinds them. If they knew God and loved Him, they would recognize the God Man as the Fatherís true Image and Reflection.
John 15:22. "If I had not come and spoken to them, they would not have sin: but now they have no excuse for their sin."
Now that the Messias has come and revealed the Gospel of salvation and shown the power and love of God, everyone (not just the Jews) is without excuse, if he does not believe and submit to Him. It is not the duty of true Christians to make excuses for their ignorance, but to communicate the truth to them, if they will listen to it.
John 15:23-24. "He that hateth Me hateth My Father also. If I had not done among them the works that no other man hath done, they would not have sin: but now they have both seen and hated both Me and My Father."
Such is the beauty, power, and mercifulness of the Gospel, that only those who are profoundly and willfully evil can hate and meanly oppose it, and persecute Christ and everyone else who adheres to it.
John 15:25-27. "But that the word may be fulfilled which is written in their law: they hated Me without cause. But when the Paraclete cometh, whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of Truth, Who proceedeth from the Father, He shall give testimony of Me. And you shall give testimony, because you are with Me from the beginning."
This is a "trinitarian verse," in which the Three Persons are named and their relationship to each other revealed. The three Names can only refer to three distinct Persons; when Jesus says that He will send the Paraclete from the Father, He is alluding to Their relationship with Each Other. The Son comes forth from the Father by "generation," the Holy Ghost comes forth from the Father and the Son by "spiration." Because the Father is infinite Being, He is the truth; because He comes forth from the Divine Mind, the Son may say of Himself: "I am the Truth;" (John 14:6). And because the Holy Spirit is identical to both the Father and the Son, and draws His existence from Them, He is the "Spirit of Truth."
Though He imparted the truth of God, "the mystery which hath been hidden from eternity in God Who created all things" (Ephesians 3:9), Jesus did so in a schematic and rudimentary way. When the Spirit comes, He will teach the Apostles the same truth in its fullness. The understanding of this truth will increase within the Church through the centuries, but it can never be added to substantially, or superseded by additional revelation. Any claim on the part of anyone to reveal a newer and more complete doctrine is condemned beforehand by this and other sayings of Christ in these verses of St. John. In their speeches and decrees the Liberal bishops claimed that the Council was the celebration of a new Pentecost, when in truth they sought to replace the venerable Gospel with oft-condemned Modernism, and for the vast majority of Catholics, succeeded all too well.
The "messages" of the past few weeks are meant to assist those who read them in celebrating the splendor of our Risen Savior. It is in union with Mary, our most prayerful Mother and the Apostles that we contemplate Christ preparing them for His departure and their bold confrontation with the world. The proof of the success of the Lord's ministry is in the glorious Church which they established in the world, which will last till the end of time. Joyfully do I send everyone who receives this my priestly blessing.
Yours in Christ,