Sunday (May 17): The Counselor will be with you for ever
Scripture: John 14:15-21
15 “If you love me, you will keep my commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you for ever, 17 even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him; you know him, for he dwells with you, and will be in you. 18 “I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you. 19 Yet a little while, and the world will see me no more, but you will see me; because I live, you will live also. 20 In that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you. 21 He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.”
Meditation: What makes us both fully human and truly like God? Is it not unconditional love which is unselfish, undying, and wholly directed to the good of others? The love of God unites us in an unbreakable bond of fidelity, friendship, and community with others. Jesus loved his own until the very end of his passion and death on the cross (John 13:1).
The nature of love From the very beginning of creation God said: it is not good that man should be alone (Genesis 2:18). We were created in love for love – to be a community of loving persons, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are inseparably united in a community of unbreakable love.
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) said: We love because it is our nature to love, and it is our nature because God the Holy Spirit has made it our nature. Jesus speaks to his disciples of the inseparable bound of love between himself and the Father, and of their love for humankind. In Jesus we see the fulness of God’s love and how God’s love is directed to our well-being. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him (1 John 4:9).
Knowing God’s love How do we know that God truly loves each one of us? In the cross we see the proof of God’s love for each of us and the incredible price God was willing to pay to redeem us from slavery to sin, death, and Satan. Jesus gave up his life that we might have life – abundant, everlasting life with God – a life of love and unity with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever.
Through the cross Jesus opened a new way of relationship for us as the adopted sons and daughters of God – his beloved children (Romans 8:14-17). Jesus calls his disciples to walk in his way of love through obedience to the will of the Father. True love is more than sentiment, emotion, or good intention. As important as these may be they are not the proof of sincere love. True love for God is expressed in obedience and obedience is expressed in love.
Jesus’ best gift for us Jesus promised to give his followers the best of gifts, the Holy Spirit as their Counselor and Helper. How does the Holy Spirit help us as the counselor? Counselor is a legal term for one who defends someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Helper who guides and strengthens us and brings us safely through the challenges and adversities we must face in this life.
The Holy Spirit is also the Giver of life – the abundant life which comes from God and which sustains us forever. The Holy Spirit also guides us in the way of truth, wisdom, and goodness. We can never stop learning because the Spirit leads us more and more into the knowledge of God’s love, truth, and goodness. Jesus also promised his followers the gift of peace. Peace is more than the absence of conflict or trouble. Peace includes everything which makes for our highest good. Trust in God, faith in his promises, and obedience to his word lead us to peace and security in God’s presence. That is why a Christian need not fear or be troubled by anything. The love of Christ brings immeasurable joy and consolation even in the midst of our trials and suffering. Paul the Apostle states,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35,38-39).
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the knowledge of Christ’s immense love and with his gift of peace.
“O God, you are the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings and the bestower of affection, who sends peace to those who receive it. Open to us this day the sea of your love and water us with abundant streams from the riches of your grace and from the most sweet springs of your kindness. Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace; enkindle in us the fire of your love; sow in us your fear; strengthen our weakness by your power; bind us closely to you and to each other in our firm and indissoluble bond of unity.” (ancient prayer from Syrian Clementine liturgy)
1 Make a joyful noise to God, all the earth; 2 sing the glory of his name; give to him glorious praise! 3 Say to God, “How terrible are your deeds! So great is your power that your enemies cringe before you. 4 All the earth worships you; they sing praises to you, sing praises to your name.” [Selah] 5 Come and see what God has done: he is terrible in his deeds among men. 6 He turned the sea into dry land; men passed through the river on foot. There did we rejoice in him, 7 who rules by his might for ever, whose eyes keep watch on the nations — let not the rebellious exalt themselves. [Selah] 16 Come and hear, all you who fear God, and I will tell what he has done for me. 20 Blessed be God, because he has not rejected my prayer or removed his steadfast love from me!
Daily Quote from the early church fathers: There is no love without the Holy Spirit, by Augustine of Hippo, 354-430 A.D.
“How, then, did the apostles love, but in the Holy Spirit? And yet they are commanded to love him and keep his commandments before they have received him and, in fact, in order to receive him. And yet, without having that Spirit, they certainly could not love him and keep his commandments. We are therefore to understand that he who loves already has the Holy Spirit, and by what he has he becomes worthy of a fuller possession, that by having more he may love more. The disciples, therefore, already had that Holy Spirit whom the Lord promised, for without him they could not call him Lord. But they had him not as yet in the way promised by the Lord… He was yet to be given them in an ampler measure [at Pentecost].” (excerpt from TRACTATES ON THE GOSPEL OF JOHN 74.1 2)
Scripture quotations from Common Bible: Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 1973, and Ignatius Edition of the Revised Standard Version of the Bible, copyright 2006, by the Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. Citation references for quotes from the writings of the early church fathers can be found here.