Thought for the day  
“The greatest things you’ll ever learn is to love and be loved in return.” The following words, attributed to Pedro Arrupe SJ, may up lift and inspire. “Nothing is more practical than finding God, that is, than falling in love, in a quite absolute, final way. What you are in love with, what seizes your imagination, will affect everything. It will decide what will get you out of bed in the morning, what you will do with your evening, how you will spend your weekends, what you read, who you know, what breaks your heart, and what amazes you with joy and gratitude. Fall in love, stay in love and it will decide everything.”

Jesus, you love the human race: let your love of us strike so deep a chord within us that our lives may resound to the music of that grace, drawing others to the leap of faith and the dance of joy.

John 14:15
   “If you love me, you will obey my commandments. 16 Then I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate to be with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept, because it does not see him or know him. But you know him, because he resides with you and will be in you.

John 14:18    “I will not abandon you as orphans, I will come to you. 19 In a little while the world will not see me any longer, but you will see me; because I live, you will live too. 20 You will know at that time that I am in my Father and you are in me and I am in you. 21 The person who has my commandments and obeys them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and will reveal myself to him.”

Initial observations
This mysteriously inviting passage is the fruit of prayer, contemplation and discernment. As such, it eludes analysis; rather it invites a comparison with our own experience and stirs our own desire.

Kind of writing
(i) This is identifiable as belonging to the genre of Last Will and Testament. As often noted, in the OT and sometimes in the NT, the last speech of the main protagonist can be very important. A number of the typical themes can be found here: how will the followers manage after the master has left? Will he be present in another way? How should the followers behave in a practical way? In some ways, the answer to all three problems is the same: the Spirit will keep the spirit of Jesus alive and they will know this by their love; such love will keep them in the communion with the Father and with Jesus himself.

(ii) This particular realisation of the theme belongs in the much longer Final Testament of John 14-17. These reflections, placed by the author on the lips of the risen Jesus, are the fruit of deep prayer and experience of the spiritual gifts. In the profound discernment of the author, the word of the Lord to this community is a recognition of feeling orphaned, an affirmation of the Holy Spirit and an invitation to continue to love (horizontally and vertically, so to speak). The continued “seeing” of Jesus, is a matter of faith seeing in this Gospel.

(iii) In terms of the place of this excerpt, the following plan of the second half of the Gospel of John may help:

THE BOOK OF GLORY (13:1-20:31)
The Last Discourse (13:1-17:26)
i.   Making God known: the foot washing and the morsel (13:1-38)
ii. Departure (14:1-31)
iii. To abide, to love, and to be hated (15:1-16:3)
iv. Departure (16:4-33)
v. Making God known: Jesus’ final prayer (17:1-26)

Old Testament background
(i) The language of “orphan” is found widely in the Old Testament, with a particular awareness of the vulnerability of the orphan. An experience of vulnerability, in the time “after” Jesus, lies behind this text.

(ii) There is a Wisdom background to the reflection here, taking up the sapiential tone of the Prologue: The beginning of wisdom is the most sincere desire for instruction, and concern for instruction is love of her, and love of her is the keeping of her laws, and giving heed to her laws is assurance of immortality. (Wis 6:17–18)

New Testament foreground
As is the way of John’s Gospel, key words here echo the use of key words elsewhere in the same Gospel text. In fact, the burden of the commentary below is made up of these cross references, a kind of echo reading to hear the resonances.

St Paul
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Rom 5:1–5)

Brief commentary
The “commentary” today is made up of other verses in the Gospel.
Verse 15 There is only one commandment, to love.
They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them. (Jn 14:21)
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (Jn 14:23)
If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. (Jn 15:21)
But whoever obeys his word, truly in this person the love of God has reached perfection. (1Jn 2:5)
For the love of God is this, that we obey his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome... (1 Jn 5:3)
Verse 16 The Advocate in the Gospel is the Spirit; in the first letter of John, it is Jesus himself.
Now he said this about the Spirit, which believers in him were to receive; for as yet there was no Spirit, because Jesus was not yet glorified. (Jn 7:39)
My little children, I am writing these things to you so that you may not sin. But if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous. (1 Jn 2:1)
Verse 17 The Spirit of truth means the Spirit of Jesus (the way, the truth and life) who brings the life of Risen Lord, into our hearts.
When the Advocate comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth who comes from the Father, he will testify on my behalf. (Jn 15:26)
When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for he will not speak on his own, but will speak whatever he hears, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. (Jn 16:13)
We are from God. Whoever knows God listens to us, and whoever is not from God does not listen to us. From this we know the spirit of truth and the spirit of error. (1 Jn 4:6)
This is the one who came by water and blood, Jesus Christ, not with the water only but with the water and the blood. And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth. (1 Jn 5:6)
Verse 18 The pattern here is presence—absence—presence in a wholly new mode.
And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and will take you to myself, so that where I am, there you may be also. (Jn 14:3)
When it was evening on that day, the first day of the week, and the doors of the house where the disciples had met were locked for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:19)
A week later his disciples were again in the house, and Thomas was with them. Although the doors were shut, Jesus came and stood among them and said, “Peace be with you.” (Jn 20:26)
Jesus then said, “I will be with you a little while longer, and then I am going to him who sent me. (Jn 7:33)
Verse 19 The second part of this tremendous verse call for deep faith.
Just as the living Father sent me, and I live because of the Father, so whoever eats me will live because of me. (Jn 6:57)
Verse 20 The mutual indwelling of the Father and the Son is extended to the believer. The “day” in this Gospel would seem to be the “now” of salvation.
On that day you will ask nothing of me. Very truly, I tell you, if you ask anything of the Father in my name, he will give it to you. (Jn 16:23)
On that day you will ask in my name. I do not say to you that I will ask the Father on your behalf. (Jn 16:26)
Verse 21 Very challenging for contemporary faith: the practice of love opens the believer to the love of God and the revelation of the Son.
Jesus answered him, “Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them. (Jn 14:23)
For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from God. (Jn 16:27)
I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me. (Jn 17:23)

Pointers for prayer
1. The identity of Jesus is revealed as the Messiah and the Son of God, not with a display of human power, but as one who was prepared to suffer unto death to show us how our God loves us. How does the Passion story speak to you as a revelation of how God loves you?
2. “If you love me you will keep my commandments”, and specifically the commandment to love one another (cf. 13.34). How have you experienced the love of God and love of those around you?
3. Jesus is preparing his disciples for his imminent departure and for a future in which he would be with them in a different way. He would not ‘leave them orphans’ but send an ‘Advocate’ to ‘be with (them) for ever’. How have you experienced the presence of God with you in your life?
4. Perhaps you have also experienced the challenge of preparing another (a child, a friend) for a time when you would no longer be physically together. Recall how you gave the message of your ongoing support.
5. How have you experienced the presence and support of a loved one (parent, spouse, friend) when circumstances have separated you from them?
6. The proof of the ongoing presence of Jesus with his disciples is that “I live and you will live”. Discipleship is about much more than rules and regulations. It is about being alive. How has discipleship helped you to be more fully alive?

Faithful God who loves us in Christ Jesus, send your Spirit of truth to dwell within us, that we may always reject what is false, live by the commands of Christ, and be true to the love you have shown us.
Grant this through Jesus Christ, the resurrection and the life, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God for ever and ever. Amen.