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John 14:23-29

Our love is true, says St Gregory the Great, if we keep His commandments, which means keeping our self-will in check. We need to cleanse our hearts to make them a suitable place for the Lord to dwell. Whilst the Spirit of Christ abides in us, so does the Spirit of God, for Christ is God, says St Hilary. St Ambrose reminds us that God sits in all of our hearts, he is not some remote presence with no interest in us. He will come to us if we will but love him, Augustine reminds us. The Father and the Son are one with the Holy Spirit.

St Leo the Great reminds us that although Christ withdraws his bodily presence until the time when he will come again in glory, but that this will be followed by the Spirit coming upon the world. This is the comfort which Christ offers to his disciples and to us, as Chrysostom reminds us. Gregory the Great explains that ‘Paraclete’ means advocate or consoler in Latin. He is an advocate because he intervenes with the Father on behalf of us sinners. He consoles us because he offers us the hope of a pardon for our sins. He mentions his departure, foreshadowing the Ascension and the first Pentecost, but we should not conclude that that the Son or the Spirit were ever absent from this world. St Basil writes that when the Paraclete is present in us, he makes our spirit-bearing souls spiritual, moving us beyond our fallen nature.

The Spirit comes in the name of the Son from the Father, and Father, Son and Spirit are one, distinguished in Scripture by their activity: so the Father sends through the Son, and the Spirit is sent, but three are one. The Spirit’s presence in our hearts allows us to hear what God wants (Gregory the Great).

The character of Chris’s peace can be gauged from the serenity of mind and of soul of those who receive it. Christ alone, Augustine reminds us, offers peace, and it is of mind and spirit and of a kind the world cannot give. If we have his peace, we have his love, and this we can share with all who may want to receive him. He knew that his disciples, then and now would be afraid, but he reminds us not to be, for he is with us.

When he says that the Father is greater than him, we must, St Hilary tells us, remember that here is he speaking of his human nature, because Christ is equal to the Father in his divine nature. Father and Son are, the Fathers all comment, of one substance, and though the Son has his origin in the Father, the Father is not greater in nature of in time, only, as St John of Damascus comments, by begetting him.

Jesus knew that the faith of the disciples had been impaired by his death and restored by his resurrection. He tells them that the ‘ruler’ of this world, who is coming, has no power over him. Some Fathers think he refers here to the devil, others to the secular rulers of the age.