Lectio notes: John 14:15-31

Farewell discourse, Duccio 1308-11


Today's section of St John's Gospel forms the first part of the marvellous motet by Thomas Tallis, If Ye Love Me, and highlights a Gospel message often neglected today, viz the importance of keeping the commandments.  The main focus of the passage though, is Jesus' teaching on the Holy Ghost.

Lectio

The Greek, Knox translation English and Vulgate Latin can be found over at New Advent.  You can listen to the Latin here and the Greek here.

Here is the Latin:

15 Si diligitis me, mandata mea servate: 16 et ego rogabo Patrem, et alium Paraclitum dabit vobis, ut maneat vobiscum in æternum, 17 Spiritum veritatis, quem mundus non potest accipere, quia non videt eum, nec scit eum: vos autem cognoscetis eum, quia apud vos manebit, et in vobis erit. 18 Non relinquam vos orphanos: veniam ad vos. 19 Adhuc modicum, et mundus me jam non videt. Vos autem videtis me: quia ego vivo, et vos vivetis. 20 In illo die vos cognoscetis quia ego sum in Patre meo, et vos in me, et ego in vobis. 21 Qui habet mandata mea, et servat ea: ille est qui diligit me. Qui autem diligit me, diligetur a Patre meo: et ego diligam eum, et manifestabo ei meipsum. 22 Dicit ei Judas, non ille Iscariotes: Domine, quid factum est, quia manifestaturus es nobis teipsum, et non mundo? 23 Respondit Jesus, et dixit ei: Si quis diligit me, sermonem meum servabit, et Pater meus diliget eum, et ad eum veniemus, et mansionem apud eum faciemus; 24 qui non diligit me, sermones meos non servat. Et sermonem, quem audistis, non est meus: sed ejus qui misit me, Patris.25 Hæc locutus sum vobis apud vos manens. 26 Paraclitus autem Spiritus Sanctus, quem mittet Pater in nomine meo, ille vos 27 Pacem relinquo vobis, pacem meam do vobis: non quomodo mundus dat, ego do vobis. Non turbetur cor vestrum, neque formidet. 28 Audistis quia ego dixi vobis: Vado, et venio ad vos. Si diligeretis me, gauderetis utique, quia vado ad Patrem: quia Pater major me est. 29 Et nunc dixi vobis priusquam fiat: ut cum factum fuerit, credatis. 30 Jam non multa loquar vobiscum: venit enim princeps mundi hujus, et in me non habet quidquam. 31 Sed ut cognoscat mundus quia diligo Patrem, et sicut mandatum dedit mihi Pater, sic facio. Surgite, eamus hinc.docebit omnia, et suggeret vobis omnia quæcumque dixero vobis.

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And the English (Douay-Rheims):

[15] If you love me, keep my commandments.[16] And I will ask the Father, and he shall give you another Paraclete, that he may abide with you for ever. [17] The spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it seeth him not, nor knoweth him: but you shall know him; because he shall abide with you, and shall be in you. [18] I will not leave you orphans, I will come to you. [19] Yet a little while: and the world seeth me no more. But you see me: because I live, and you shall live. [20] In that day you shall know, that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.[21] He that hath my commandments, and keepeth them; he it is that loveth me. And he that loveth me, shall be loved of my Father: and I will love him, and will manifest myself to him. [22] Judas saith to him, not the Iscariot: Lord, how is it, that thou wilt manifest thyself to us, and not to the world? [23] Jesus answered, and said to him: If any one love me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him, and will make our abode with him. [24] He that loveth me not, keepeth not my words. And the word which you have heard, is not mine; but the Father' s who sent me. [25] These things have I spoken to you, abiding with you.[26] But the Paraclete, the Holy Ghost, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring all things to your mind, whatsoever I shall have said to you. [27] Peace I leave with you, my peace I give unto you: not as the world giveth, do I give unto you. Let not your heart be troubled, nor let it be afraid. [28] You have heard that I said to you: I go away, and I come unto you. If you loved me, you would indeed be glad, because I go to the Father: for the Father is greater than I. [29] And now I have told you before it comes to pass: that when it shall come to pass, you may believe. [30] I will not now speak many things with you. For the prince of this world cometh, and in me he hath not any thing.[31] But that the world may know, that I love the Father: and as the Father hath given me commandment, so do I: Arise, let us go hence.

Study/meditation

The injunction to keep the commandments as a sign of our love of God is the starting point for everything.  From the Catena Aurea:

CHRYS. Our Lord having said, Whatsoever you shall ask in My name, that I will do; that they might not think simply asking would be enough, He adds, If you love Me, keep My commandments. And then I will do what you ask, seems to be His meaning. Or the disciples having heard Him say, I go to the Father, and being troubled at the thought of it, He says, To love Me, is not to be troubled, but to keep My commandments: this is love, to obey and believe in Him who is loved....

But the key focus of this text is that though Jesus is leaving the world, he will not leave us without the presence of God in our lives:

AUG. Wherein He shows too that He Himself is the Comforter. Paraclete means advocate, and is applied to Christ: We have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (1 Jn 2:1).

ALCUIN. Paraclete, i.e. Comforter. They had then one Comforter, who comforted and elevated them by the sweetness of His miracles, and His preaching.

DIDYMUS. But the Holy Ghost was another Comforter: differing not in nature, but in operation. For whereas our Savior in His office of Mediator, and of Messenger, and as High Priest, made supplication for our sins; the Holy Ghost is a Comforter in another sense, i.e. as consoling our griefs. But do not infer from the different operations of the Son and the Spirit, a difference of nature. For in other places we find the Holy Spirit performing the office of intercessor with the Father, as, The Spirit Himself intercedes for us. And the Savior, on the other hand, pours consolation into those hearts that need it: as in Maccabees, He strengthened those of the people that were brought low (1 Macc 14:15)...

CHRYS. That He may abide with you for ever. The Spirit does not depart even at death. He intimates too that the Holy Ghost will not suffer death, or go away, as He has done. But that the mention of the Comforter might not lead them to expect another incarnation, a Comforter to be seen with the eye, He adds, Even the Spirit of truth Whom the world cannot receive, because it sees Him not, neither knows Him.

AUG. This is the Holy Ghost in the Trinity, Whom the Catholic faith professes to be consubstantial and coeternal with the Father and the Son.

CHRYS. The Spirit of truth He calls Him, because He unfolds the figures of the Old Testament. The world are the wicked, seeing is certain knowledge; sight being the most certain of the senses.

BEDE. Note too, that when He calls the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth, He shows that the Holy Spirit is His Spirit: then when He says He is given by the Father, He declares Him to be the Spirit of the Father also. Thus the Holy Ghost proceeds both from the Father, and from the Son.

GREG. The Holy Spirit kindles in every one, in whom He dwells, the desire of things invisible. And since worldly minds love only things visible, this world receives Him not, because it rises not to the love of things invisible. In proportion as secular minds enlarge themselves by the spread of their desires, in that proportion they narrow themselves, with respect to admitting Christ.


How then do we cultivate this great indwelling Spirit?

HILARY. Or He means by this, that whereas He was in the Father by the nature of His divinity, and we in Him by means of His birth in the flesh; He on the other hand should be believed to be in us by the mystery of the Sacrament: as He Himself testified above: Whosoever eats My flesh, and drinks My blood, dwells in Me, and I in Him.

ALCUIN. By love, and the observance of His commandments, that will be perfected in us which He has begun, viz. that we should be in Him, and He in us. And that this blessedness may be understood to be promised to all, not to the Apostles only, He adds, He that has My commandments and keeps them, he it is that loves Me.

AUG. He that has them in , and keeps them in life; he that has them in words, and keeps them in works; he that has them by hearing, and keeps them by doing; he that has them by doing, and keeps them by persevering, he it is that loves Me. Love must be strewn by works, or it is a mere barren name.

THEOPHYL. As if He said, You think that by sorrowing, as you do, for my death you prove your affection; but I esteem the keeping of My commandments the evidence of love. And then He shows the privileged state of one who loves: And he that loves Me shall be loved of My Father, and I will love him.

AUG. I will love him, as if now He did not love him. What means this? He explains it in what follows: And will manifest Myself to him, i.e. I love him so far as to manifest Myself to him; so that, as the reward of his faith, he will have sight. Now He only loves us so that we believe; then He will love us so that we see. And whereas we love now by believing that which we shall see, then we shall love by seeing that which we have believed...

GREG. If you would prove your love, show your works. The love of God is never idle; whenever it is, it does great things: if it do not work, it is not.

AUG. Love distinguishes the saints from the world: it makes men to be of one mind in an house; in which house the Father and the Son take their abode; who give that love to those, to whom in the end they will manifest themselves. For these is a certain inner manifestation of God, unknown to the ungodly, to whom there is no manifestation made of the Father and the Holy Spirit, and only could be of the Son in the flesh; which latter manifestation is not as the former, being only for a little while, not for ever, for judgment, not for joy, for punishment, not for reward.

Before the final farewell, there is a passage on the key Benedictine focus of (true) peace:

CHRYS. Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you: He says this to console His disciples, who were now troubled at the prospect of the hatred and opposition which awaited them after His departure.

AUG. He left no peace in this world; in which we conquer the enemy, and have love one to another: He will give us peace in the world to come, when we shall reign without an enemy, and where we shall be able to avoid disagreement. This peace is Himself, both when we believe that He is, and when we shall see Him as He is. But why does He say, Peace I leave with you, without the My, whereas He puts in My in, My peace 1 give to you? Are we to understand My in the former; or is it not rather left out with a meaning?

His peace is such peace as He has Himself; the peace which He left us in this world is rather our peace than His. He has nothing to fight against in Himself, because He has no sin: but ours is a peace in which we still say, Forgive us our debts (Matt 6:12). And in like manner we have peace between ourselves, because we mutually trust one another, that we mutually love one another. But neither is that a perfect peace; for we do not see into each other's minds. I could not deny however that these words of our Lord's may be understood as a simple repetition.

He adds, Not as the world gives, give I unto you: i.e. not as those men, who love the world, give. They give themselves peace, i.e. free, uninterrupted enjoyment of the world. And even when they allow the righteous peace, so far as not to persecute them, yet there cannot be true peace, where there is no true agreement, no union of heart.

CHRYS. External peace is often even hurtful, rather than profitable to those who enjoy it.

AUG. But there is a peace which is serenity of thought, tranquillity of mind, simplicity of heart, the bond of love, the fellowship of charity. None will be able to come to the inheritance of the Lord who do not observe this testament of peace; none be friends with Christ, who are at enmity with the Christians.


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