What follows is a consideration of the latter verses of Chapter 14 of St. Johnís Gospel. They were spoken by our blessed Savior after the Last Supper. As far as we know, only the Eleven Apostles were present, Judas having departed to carry out his nefarious treachery. While Judas was "closing the deal" with the priests, Our divine Lord discoursed to the other Apostles on matters of divine truth and charity.
John 14:14-15. If you shall ask Me any thing in My name, that I will do. If you love Me, keep My commandments.
"If you love me.." The primary lesson here is, of course, that Jesus speaks as God. He gives this as the worthy occupation of life, keeping His commandments to demonstrate oneís love of Himself. What are these commandments? They are the refinements of the Ten Commandments which God gave Moses, as the Lord set forth in the Sermon on the Mount. (Cf. Matthew Chapters 5-8), Christís rendering of the Commandments is the purest and most noble form of human conduct, including all of oneís thoughts, desires, intentions, words, and actions. Christ is most deserving of love because He is divine goodness in human form. He became incarnate in order that we may know the goodness of God. Loving Him and living for Him is the true norm of human life, no matter how strange and abnormal it may seem. Every man must find his true and good self in living for and in Christ. Those for whom this is unappealing and unnecessary, must understand that this is an indication of how far from proper human living they are and how profoundly they must alter their mode of existence.
If one knows anything about human history, one knows that the ideal which Jesus proposed is too high for the vast majority of men, which explains why men are so unhappy, and why there is so much tragedy in the world, why there is such emptiness and despair. This is not to say that Christís ideal is unattainable, rather, it is unacceptable to men, who, with few exceptions, are evil.
For the same reason that they will not submit to Christ, men refuse to acknowledge how noble was His life, how singularly pure, temperate, and kind He was, and how deserving of imitation and worship. Instead, to this day, they ridicule and contradict and blaspheme Him. Even if they are too cowardly or selfish to attempt to emulate this perfect Man, at least they could credit Him with virtue and true piety.
Still a greater wonder, there are those who are moved to hatred of Jesus Christ. Those who publicly stand against abortion mills tell us how often that they are cursed and Jesus is cursed. Why would a mere human being ever be moved to hate Christ? This could only be explained by the influence of Satan. (It also says how the Devil loves abortion.)
We must note also the contemporary zeal to expunge from public life all notice or recognition of Jesus our Lord. The Jews make no secret that they are the energizers of this drive. Christians love Christ much less than His enemies hate Him.
"If you love me, keep my commandments." Jesus pronounced these challenging words, and the Apostles, before all else, became lovers and imitators of Christ. They imitated His virtue, and also His asceticism and self-sacrifice. It was their likeness to Christ, as well as their powerful devotion to Him which altered the world.
John 14:16. "And I will ask the Father: and He shall give you another Paraclete, that He may abide with you for ever:
Jesus moves to a further revelation. He has often mentioned the Holy Ghost, but here He speaks in such a way as to reveal the role of the Spirit in the salvation mystery. He further reveals more definitely Who the Spirit is, and His relationship to the Father and the Son. Jesus explains the Spirit by promising His gifts and His abiding presence.
When we read and think of these things, we make acts of faith in their truth, and acknowledge this factor in our lives as Christians, a divine influence which those outside do not have and evidently do not want.
14:17. "The Spirit of Truth, Whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth Him not, nor knoweth Him. But you shall know Him; because He shall abide with you and shall be in you."
We know well what our Lord is speaking of. We know that those among whom we live have no faith in the idea that Christ has send the divine Spirit into the hearts of the faithful. That those in the state of grace are temples of the Holy Ghost, Who resides within them and empowers their supernatural life. As the Comforter and Paraclete, He influences their intellect and will so that they live morally and piously, and give themselves and their substance in charity. The Church teaches us that for all works of merit, the Holy Spirit must be our sure Adjuvant.
14:18. "I will not leave you orphans: I will come to you."
This is Christís promise of constant assistance and guidance through the Spirit to the Apostles. But all Christians should consider that Christ, their soulís Spouse, is ever with them, strengthening them in their difficulties, protecting them from evil, guiding their thoughts, directing their wills and moving them to fulfill their duties.
14:19. "Yet a little while and the world seeth Me no more. But you see Me: because I live, and you shall live."
The world will no longer see its Savior when He ascends in Heaven. But the Apostles will see Him by faith, will be certain of His presence and providence. The Apostles, and all others in the Church, who live by faith, will be sustained by the presence and power of the Risen Christ to pursue His mission and His goals.
14:20-21. "In that day you shall know that I am in My Father: and you in Me, and I in you. He that hath My commandments and keepeth them; he it is that loveth Me. And he that loveth Me shall be loved of My Father: and I will love him and will manifest Myself to him."
Jesus here speaks of the supernatural order, in which those who abide therein enjoy the divine intimacy. Theirs is a different world from that of those who are immersed in earthly concerns. He wants the Apostles to anticipate their coming life, for which they have been preparing, in which their service of the Church will consume them. All who are in the priesthood and in religion are supposed to devote themselves with equal disregard for the world and its values and lusts and vanities. Lay people also are called to center their lives on their spiritual progress and the good of those around them. If the Catholic Church is ever again to accomplish the purposes of Christ, its clergy must return to this recognition and dedication. Is it not remarkable that the thousands of priests in the Church do not see that they are not pursuing the true ends of the Church to which they have been consecrated?
14:22-23. "Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: 'Lord, how is it that Thou wilt manifest Thyself to us, and not to the world?'
Jesus answered and said to him: 'If any one love Me, he will keep My word. And My Father will love him and We will come to him and will make Our abode with him.'"
As He does often, Christ answers Judasí (St. Judeís) question by continuing His discourse: The direct answer to the question is that Jesus can accomplish nothing among the unbelieving, and He does not squander His grace and His miracles upon them. In order to have anything to do with Christ and the Triune God, it is necessary to accept revealed truths and to order all oneís thinking by them. One must live in the realm of unseen realities and mysteries. This hallowed world is open to all, but it is unknowable to those who are incredulous and earthbound.
In His answer, the Lord indicates that He will not manifest Himself to those who do not love Him. His entire public life has been one uninterrupted demonstration of love and kindness. They have taken His miracles, His cures, His handouts of food greedily enough, but they turned away from His teaching, especially His revelation of His heavenly origin, and all His spiritual promises.
"And My Father will love him..." There is no limit to the largesse which the Father will show those who truly believe and live the Christian life. The most holy Trinity will establish Their residence in the individual so that he becomes like a divine being, like an outlander of Heaven.
14:24. "He that loveth Me not keepeth not My words. And the word which you have heard is not Mine; but the Father's Who sent Me."
Jesus teaches the oneness of the Divine Being and the Triune Personality of the Godhead by repeating in one way or another that whatever He has revealed and whatever power He has manifested, has come from the Father, Later He will say that whatever the Holy Ghost teaches and does is at the instance of Himself, the Word. As the revealed word from Each of the Divine Persons is the same, so its source is the same. The Revelation, indeed, is the Reveler.
14:25-26. "These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you. But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, Whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you."
Jesus rejoices that with the coming of the Paraclete His teachings will all come together for the Apostles and His other followers. Where there was puzzlement and dismay, there will be clarity and enlightenment, and corresponding exultation. The Pentecost will be a most joyful day. The First Christians broke forth in hymns and canticles of jubilation, singing of the "wonderful works of God" Acts 2:11).
14:27. "Peace I leave with you: My peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled: nor let it be afraid."
Jesus leaves them in order to achieve His redeeming oblation. He imparts His peace to them. He is full of sympathy for them, in that it is impossible for them fully to comprehend what He does, no matter how explicitly He explains it to them.
His peace is of the soul, founded on His divine truthfulness and flowing from His invincibility. It is His signature gift, which those steeped in unbelief and sin are incapable of. They neither understand nor desire it, as it is the difference between silence and noise, or better, between the sweet harmonies of Heaven and the hopeless screams of Hell.
14:28. "You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved Me you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I."
They would be glad at His glorious triumph. Christís victory over sin and death will be acclaimed in Limbo upon His Soulís arrival there, and in Heaven on Ascension Day. Ever afterward it will be the theme of unending gratitude and praise before the throne of the Father.
Apocalypse 7:9. "After this, I saw a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations and tribes and peoples and tongues, standing before the throne and in sight of the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands."
7:10. "And they cried with a loud voice, saying: Salvation to our God, Who sitteth upon the throne and to the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne and the ancients and the four living creatures. And they fell down before the throne upon their faces and adored God,"
7:12. "Saying: 'Amen. Benediction and glory and wisdom and thanksgiving, honour and power and strength, to our God, for ever and ever. Amen'."
More relevantly, the Lordís accession to His Fatherís reward and glory will make it possible for the Holy Ghost to come in the mystery of Pentecost. It is as if, with the death and resurrection of Christ, all things for the work of the salvation of man will have been put in place.
"The Father is greater than I" We understand that Jesus here speaks as a Man, for, as Man, He is inferior to the Father; His human nature is inferior to the divine nature. He Who speaks is the Second Person of the most Blessed Trinity, Who possesses a divine nature and a human nature. At one time He speaks as God, at another as a Man. At all times, being God, He is one with the Father and the Holy Ghost in transcendent omnipotence; at all times, as Man, He enjoys the Beatific Vision, even in the bitterest moments of His passion. When He says here that the Father is greater than He, He is referring to the fact that when He ascends to the Father, the God Man, Jesus Christ of Nazareth, will be exalted, and given a place which was enjoyed by the Second Person before the Incarnation. In the Ascension, Jesus will be uplifted and extolled because of His most perfect obedience to the Father, a submission which was in every way most virtuous, humble, and worshipful. Amidst all His humiliations and tortures, He maintained a most perfect spirit of subjugation to the will of the Father. As God, He is Goodness Itself; as Man, He could not sin because He was always submissive to the grace of the Spirit, which was His in fullest measure.
"And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe." The Apostles could not grasp all that their Master said to them. But when they heard the first rumors of His resurrection Easter Sunday morning, they would begin to realize the meaning of much of what He had said to them. His resurrection would demonstrate that He was indeed God Incarnate, the Lord of Life, the Conqueror of Death, the Redeemer of Mankind. When the Holy Ghost descended upon them fifty days later, things but poorly understood and much confused in their minds became clear, and they exulted deliriously at all that God had done for them in sending His Son to abide among them and teach and befriend them.
14:29. "And now I have told you before it come to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe."
What Jesus is now telling them is meant to fortify them for the hours immediately ahead. Even though they lacked the courage to follow Christ after His arrest, and even though all during the events which saw the Lord brutalized, falsely accused, and cruelly executed, they had the advantage of having been told that these things would come about. That the Lord Jesus foretold all these things was bound to strengthen their faith, if not their wills, for it meant that He was suffering by His own will and was not, defenseless to His persecutors
14:30 "I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world: cometh: and in Me he hath not any thing."
He calls Satan "the prince of this world." This term alone should terrify the faithless and the sinful: they think themselves free and independent, but, in truth, they are already the subjects of the ruler of Hell.
With this term Jesus also again delineates the two worlds of which everyone must make a final choice, the world where Satan reigns, and the Church, where Christ holds all primacy. (Cf. Colossians 1:18) Those in the Church refer to those who are not as being "outside."
"And in me he hath not any thing." Our Lord says that He is entirely free of the control of Satan, that He has never sinned, and that He is beyond Satanís power. Jesus the God Man, by the power of the divinity to which His human nature is joined, and by the grace that flows through His soul from the Godhead, has the power to resist all evil and to do only the supremely good. Those who are joined to Christ as members of the Church have access to the same grace and divine power, so that they are able to resist Satan, his works and his pomps.
14:31. "But that the world may know that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given Me commandments, so do I. Arise, let us go hence."
Jesus concludes this part of His discourse by instructing His Apostles that all that they witness Him doing and suffering will, above all things, be an act of purest love of the Father. The boundless love which flows from the Sacred Heart is the motive for the redemptive sacrifice which will be the crowning act of His life on earth, and the central event of all human history. (Ponder this well when you are at Mass, when this sacrifice is offered anew for your spiritual benefit.) And in every age, let every man know that by the cross, Christ has achieved total dominance over Satan and all who oppose Him, no matter how things appear. Christus vincit, Christus regnat, Christus imperat!
I wish to express my gratitude again to everyone who prays for me. Quite a few have told me that they pray for me "by name" every day, which is indeed gratifying. I thank everyone who has send me words of encouragement, and gifts of money, which are most helpful. May everyone enjoy the Paschal Season, when the Church repeats "alleluia" with every phrase of its prayers.
Yours in Christ,