Philip went down to the city of Samaria and proclaimed the Christ to them. With one accord, the crowds paid attention to what was said by Philip when they heard it and saw the signs he was doing. For unclean spirits, crying out in a loud voice, came out of many possessed people, and many paralyzed or crippled people were cured. There was great joy in that city. Now when the apostles in Jerusalem heard that Samaria had accepted the word of God, they sent them Peter and John, who went down and prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Spirit, for it had not yet fallen upon any of them; they had only been baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. Then they laid hands on them and they received the Holy Spirit."(P) The word of the Lord.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth, sing praise to the glory of his name; proclaim his glorious praise. Say to God, "How tremendous are your deeds!" (R)
"Let all on earth worship and sing praise to you, sing praise to your name!" Come and see the works of God, his tremendous deeds among the children of Adam. (R)
He has changed the sea into dry land; through the river they passed on foot. Therefore, let us rejoice in him. He rules by his might forever. (R)
Hear now, all you who fear God, while I declare what he has done for me. Blessed by God who refused me not my prayer or his kindness. (R)
Beloved: Sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts. Always be ready to give an explanation to anyone who asks you for a reason for your hope, but do it with gentleness and reverence, keeping your conscience clear, so that, when you are maligned, those who defame your good conduct in Christ may themselves be put to shame. For it is better to suffer for doing good, if that be the will of God, than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered for sins once, the righteousness for the sake of the unrighteous, that he might lead you to God. Put to death in the flesh, he was brought to life in the Spirit.(P) The word of the Lord.
Jesus said to his disciples: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it neither sees nor knows him. But you know him, because he remains with you, and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you. In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live and you will live. On that day, you will realize that I am in the Father and you are in me and I in you. Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him."(P) The Gospel of the Lord.
Today's gospel text is a continuation of Jesus' farewell discourse to his disciples immediately after the conclusion of the Last Supper in Jerusalem, on the night before his crucifixion, John (14:15-21). In the first part of the discourse, which we read last week, Jesus, knowing his disciples' anxiety and fear over his impending suffering and death, exhorted them to find comfort, firstly, through their faith in God and in Him. Secondly, He told them that He was only going to his Father's House to prepare a place for each of them, and they did not have to worry because they knew the way. Thirdly, He advised them not to be sad and to trust Him because "He is in the Father, and the Father is in Him, and they are in Him". Moreover, he said that anyone who sees Him is similarly seeing God. Fourthly, He encouraged them to believe in Him so that they would be able to do the same works that He did, and in fact, would be able to do "greater" works than Himself, because He was going to the Father.
In today's gospel, we hear further exhortations from Jesus. He declared, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments." In other words, if the disciples loved Jesus, they would have to keep His commandments. What are Jesus' commandments? John's gospel does not mention what Mathew, Luke and Mark speak about as Jesus' commandments. For example Jesus is recorded as having said, "If anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles", Matthew (5:41). In other words, Jesus wanted His followers to make an extra effort always or to go beyond what is required of them, when rendering their service to others.
Matthew also quotes Jesus as having said, "Not seven times, but seventy-seven times" in response to Peter's question, as to how many times he should forgive someone who has sinned against him, Matthew (18:21-22). Here, Jesus demands unlimited forgiveness. Mark and Luke also have recorded Jesus as having said, "Give back to Caesar what is Caesar's and to God what is God's", Mark (12:17) and Luke (20:25). This refers to our obligation to both God and man. But John recounts in his gospel that Jesus gave His disciples just one commandment. What is the one commandment Jesus gave to his disciples?
Jesus said, "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another", John (13:34-35). How can the disciples love one another as Jesus has loved them? During the Last Supper, Jesus had shown to the disciples the "full extent" of His love by literally stooping down to wash their feet, in a gesture of humble service to them, and urged them to do for other as He had done for them, John (13:14). This was an example for them to follow.
By keeping this one commandment we fulfil all other commandments. So, loving others as Jesus loved them precisely meant their serving, sharing, forgiving, and caring for others as Jesus did. If Jesus' disciples truly loved Him, they would have to stop being sad and start proving their love for Him instead. They were to love and serve one another as Jesus had shown them. At the same time, their love for one another must also be such that others may come to know that they are Jesus' disciples, and that they may become worthy to receive a special gift from God, that is, the Spirit of God.
Jesus said, "If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always, the Spirit of truth...", John (14:15-16). Yes. Jesus promised to give them an advocate as a reward for their faithful obedience. The Greek term for "another" is "allos", which means "another of the same kind". What does the word "advocate" mean? An "advocate" is a person who puts a case on someone else's behalf. Some versions of the Bible use the word "paraclete" which comes from the Greek word "paracletos", which is translated as "advocate", or "helper", or "counsellor", or "comforter". So, an "advocate" is someone who represents another person's interests; someone who helps another person in times of danger or adversity; someone who advises and strengthens another person; someone who comforts another person in trouble, distress, doubt and sorrow.
If Jesus promised to send "another Advocate" for his disciples, who is the first Advocate? Of course, Jesus Himself is the first Advocate interceding for his disciples with the Father. Here, Jesus names the "Advocate" as the "Spirit of Truth". To sum up, Jesus mentioned that He would request the Father to send another Advocate to be with them in His absence and to continue to play His role. This Advocate would be no less than Jesus had been to them. Just as Jesus is the Truth, the Advocate would be the Spirit of Truth, John (14:17). Just as Jesus came to bear testimony to the Truth, the Spirit would bear witness to the Truth, John (18:37). However, Jesus said that the world cannot receive the Spirit of Truth because it neither sees nor knows Him, John (14:17). Here, the word "world" refers to the all those who are alienated or estranged from God, or those who reject God's offer of salvation.
In closing, Jesus told His disciples not to worry because He would not leave them alone. The analogy to an orphan suggests that He is not like a master who leaves his disciples helpless, defenceless or unprotected. Instead, He promised to return, and they would see Him because He would live and so also would they live. Thus, that night, while his disciples remained troubled and unprepared for His departure, Jesus gave them hope and comfort.
The main message to be learned from today's gospel is that all Christians should be confident in the protective care of God through the gift of the Holy Spirit. At the very moment that we decided to give our lives to Christ or to become a Christian, Jesus has given us His Holy Spirit, as He had promised, as a personal friend and permanent companion. He is always at our side to defend us against all that is unholy, ungodly, untruthful and wicked, and to guide us towards the ways of truth and honesty. He has the power to put words in our mouth so that we speak only what we should, in our interactions with others. He can give us the courage, wisdom and strength to stand for the truth and to resist evil. He can comfort us when we are hurting, grieving, lonely and sorrowful. He can guide, counsel and help us when we are frightened and confused as well as when our hearts and minds are closed.
Hence, as we go about our daily lives, we must believe that we have a friend in us and walking with us always, in the person of the Holy Spirit, who knows what we are doing and is always willing to help us. At the same time, we must continually and personally invoke, invite and call upon the Holy Spirit to come to our aid, to stay with us, to guide us, to enlighten us, and to give us the knowledge and wisdom to discern what is right, pure, holy, and just, as well as the courage to do the things God wants us to do.(P) Amen.
God Bless You!