, , , , ,


John 14:15-21

At all times, Chrysostom tells us, it is works and actions that we need, not simply a show of words; promising is easy; doing is not as easy; to love Jesus is to obey His commandments, not just to repeat them. St Cyril comments that having told us that the enjoyment of the heavenly blessings is die to those who love him. Christ goes on to describe the power of love; because it is in the acting, not the speaking that we show our love for Him; if we live by His commands, we do just that. A Christian life is one which is ‘radiant’ with ‘good works’; we are not saved by works, but our faith is in vain if ut does not lead to them. We must understand, St Augustine writes, that he who loves already has the Holy Spirit, because Jesus tells the disciples to love Him and to keep His commandments before they have received him; but they did not yet have him in full measure. If we love him in a way which proves the genuineness of our love by our obedience, He will ask the Father, who will send the Paraclete; Christ continues to petition the Father on our behalf.

In making this promise Jesus shows, Chrysostom comments, the depth of his compassion, because, knowing they would be desolated, He calms their fears by promising that He would petition the Father to send them the Comforter; the Spirit could not come down until the sacrifice made by Christ was complete. The Spirit came, as St Gregory Nazianzus writes, so that we would not lack a Comforter; but this is ‘another’ Comforter, not Christ Himself, but the Holy Spirit, who is equal with the Father and the Son. Christ is, of course, our Comfort and our Advocate, but He and the Spirit are consubstantial, not identical. Both, St Augustine reminds us, are Divine. The Spirit lightens the load of the afflicted. He, the Son and the Father are consubstantial and coeternal, and the Trinity is the fullness of the Godhead.

St Athanasius writes that in the Paraclete, the Word makes glorious the creation, and by bestowing on it divine life and sonship, draws us to the Father. But that which joins creation to the Word cannot beong to the rank of the creatures, and that which bestows Sonship upon the creation cannot be alien from the Son. The Spirit is coeternal and consubstantial. Only the Spirit can adequately glorify the Lord, St Basil comments, and He does so as the Spirit of truth, since he, himself, is the truth shining brightly – he reflects the glory and goodness of the Father from whom he proceeded. He gives those who love and follow Christ the power to see He is the Son; just as no one knows the Father except the Son, no one can say Jesus is Lord except in the Spirit. God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must worship on Spirit and truth in His light do we see light, and through the illumination of the Holy Spirit ‘the true light enlightens every one who comes into the world.’

The ‘world’, Bede reminds us, are the inhabitants of this world who are given over to its lusts; but the saints are those on fire for heavenly things. So, anyone searching for consolation in the things of this world is not capable of being reformed inwardly by the favour of divine consolation; he who searches for the low things of this world flees from the Spirit of Truth, who flees from the hearts of those subject to this world and its vanities. Without the Spirit, Augustine tells us, we can neither love God nor keep his commandments. Whosoever has love already has the Spirit, and by that becomes worthy of having Him in even greater measure; and the more of the Spirit he has, the more does he love.

So Jesus is, Augustine writes, like a father to orphans; he will not leave them without aid and comfort. It is impossible, St Cyril remarks, for one’s soul to accomplish anything good, ot to have power over its own passions or to escape the great subtlety of the devil’s snare if the soul is not fortified by the Grace of the Holy Spirit and has Christ Himself – He will be with those who believe, even after the Ascension. The Paraclete inflames all those He fills with a passion for the things of God, those invisible things which the wisdom of this world cannot conceive. Those who love evil in this world will go down to hades, Cyril reminds us, and be banished from the presence of Christ. But the lovers of virtue, who have kept the Spirit inviolate, will dwell with Him in the house of God forever. All will rise at the last, but some to eternal punishment, and others to life with eternal felicity.