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AHC B Life In The Spirit Glorifies God - Hebrew Catholics

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Life In The Spirit Glorifies God

Pentecost Sunday         Year B

A Hebrew Catholic Perspective

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John 15: 26 — 27 and 16: 12 — 15.

 

Introduction

 Our Gospel readings for Pentecost bring us the most wonderful assurances from the lips of Jesus that, just as the disciples learnt to walk with the Messiah ― God’s Anointed One ― so they would now be led to walk with the Holy Spirit ― the One Appointed to be their Advocate, Helper, Counsellor, Friend. Far from being separated from their beloved Messiah, they would now be more closely associated than ever before. But this would take a little time to become clear.

There is probably, in the Church today, no subject more abused than the gift of the Holy Spirit. It has been mangled by many shrewd religious entrepreneurs who make outrageous claims, supposedly in the name of God, but in fact to distract attention from their lack of Biblical knowledge and depth of spiritual understanding.

We do not need these self-seeking operators to hijack any part of our religious heritage, especially the gift of the Holy Spirit. The only sources we need to approach are the Holy Bible and those in the Church whom our Lord commissioned to pass on its treasures. These always show, in some way, the Holy Spirit in the context of the Holy Trinity.

Our meditation below attempts to demonstrate the mutual indwelling of each member of the Holy Trinity, and our personal relationship with each of them. This is the great manifestation and miracle of the Holy Spirit which does not need theatrical signs and wonders as evidence of the Presence of God.

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Some Reflections on the Text

First Reading:   From John 15

Verse 26

“When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from
the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.

Some readers may feel more at home referring to the Holy Spirit as the Helper, or more traditionally, the Counsellor. These are fine; but there is some value in including the title “the Advocate” when it comes to understanding the term “to testify”. So let’s look at these.

 

An advocate as a supporter, an intercessor.

The term comes from the Latin vocare ― to call, ad ― to, and is used in the sense of calling to, or summoning someone for help. In all of the teaching of Jesus about the Holy Spirit, referred to here as “the Advocate”, He conveys the understanding that we don’t just call on the Holy Spirit now and then when we are in a bit of a fix, but are meant to remain closely united to Him as our Guide and Protector, our companion on the way: the way back to God.

Our Lord’s words can be puzzling if we do not know His rabbinic style of teaching. He called the Holy Spirit the Spirit of truth. We may think ― “What is truth?” What did He mean? It is partially a matter of translation. In His Hebrew teaching He would have used the term, “the Truth“. For His Jewish listeners this was the Torah: the words of, or about the one and only truth. The Holy Spirit, Jesus implies, is the One who teaches and gives understanding about everything the Sacred Scriptures reveal regarding the whole truth of God’s love for all mankind. Jesus had taught His disciples that He is in fact the embodiment of the whole Torah, the entire revelation of God. Only a short time earlier on the evening our reading takes place, Jesus proclaimed Himself, “the Way, the Truth, and the Life”. (See also Hebrews 10: 20 and 1 John 5: 20).

Thus, in this glorious sentence, verse 26, Jesus implies that the Holy Spirit will testify, i.e. provide all the evidence necessary to prove He is the Son of God in person, fulfilling everything laid out in the Scriptures about God’s plan for the restoration of mankind.

The Spirit, “proceeds” or goes out from the Father, we are told. But sometimes Jesus teaches He will send the Spirit. We may be forgiven asking, “Well, just who does send the Holy Spirit?” We do not need to be confused. The Scriptures talk of both the Father and the Son sending the Holy Spirit. Elsewhere we read that the Holy Spirit is “of the Son”; and that Jesus breathed on the disciples and they received the Holy Spirit: the same Spirit who sent Jesus out into the desert.

Meditation on the Scriptures soon demonstrates to us that the act of “sending” one Person of the Blessed Trinity by another, does not denote superiority or subservience. On the contrary, it contains a recognition of love, honour, and total trust. It is in a similar manner that Jesus sends His disciples to go out into the whole world to spread the Gospel of Truth. It is an honour and supreme privilege to represent Jesus in this way, and therefore in fact to represent the whole Trinity. This understanding is essential for members of the Church in its evangelisation of the world. Every single member of the Church is called upon to engage, according to one’s circumstances, in this outward movement by prayer, study, meditation and action, all for the greater glory of God.

The Holy Trinity is our model of loving service and mutual support; and each member is constantly exemplifying love, service, listening, obedience and affirmation in relation to the other members. Through Jesus our Messiah, we share in this beautiful exchange of love and mutual belonging.

The phrase “from the Father” does not imply separation from the Father. The Spirit does not ‘leave’ the source, but links the disciple with the source. This is crucial in our understanding of our relationship with God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit; and the place of prayer and meditation as our means of cherishing and nurturing this relationship.

Verse 27

And you also testify, because you have been with me from
the beginning.

The Spirit and the disciple are tasked with performing the same mission together. In fact they are already doing so and must continue!

Some translations have, for this verse, “You too should give evidence”.

Bruce Vauter, C.M., introduces us to a little theology:

The disciples, too, by living the life that Christ made possible,
by being the Church ― the continuation of Christ in this world
― will be a continuing witness to His work (compare with
Luke 24: 48; Acts 1:8). This is, indeed, at the same time, the
witness of the Spirit (compare Acts 5: 32), since it is the Spirit
sent by the Son from the Father who will be the “soul” of the
Church.

We have been taught elsewhere:

The Spirit will be sent in Jesus’ name, that is, not only at his
request but in his place, as his representative, as one enjoying
His power. Jesus had come on the part of the Father, and acted
in the Father’s name (5: 43; 10: 25); the Spirit will come to act
in Jesus’ name and power. He does not bring a new Gospel, but
will remind the Apostles and their successors (this is the common
opinion) of what Jesus had taught, and will show them how to
understand his teaching.                                 (Richard Murphy, O.P.)

 

Second Reading: From John 16

Verse 12

I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

At first reading, we can certainly appreciate that the loyal disciples our Lord is talking to, just an hour or two before His arrest, can take in only the essentials. There is a lot they will have to cope with.

The early Church soon came to realise that Jesus was here indicating how He would later continue to pass on all that He said He had heard from His Father. The first Christians thereby understood that they would be the means and channel for this revelation to continue, under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.

Thus they realised they would be the “mouthpiece” relaying the “much more” that Jesus is talking about: not new things, but an ever-growing and deepening knowledge of what He had taught.

Verse 13

But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you
to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak
what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are
coming.

In verse 13 He returns to His theme begun in verse 26 of the previous chapter. The Spirit will not merely teach, but guide disciples of the Lord into the truth so that they, and the generations to follow, would see it from within and not just as an onlooker. This means the Holy Spirit will cause us to know all the truth. We may not be able to give a lecture on it, but we will be able to talk and pray about it. That’s a promise!

In the same verse Jesus gives us a beautiful picture of the inner workings of the Holy Trinity.

“The Spirit will speak only what He hears. Therefore, because
He proceeds from the source of all truth, the Father, He can
guide you into all truth.” In fact Jesus implies with His own
lips that as far as their relationship was concerned — as it was
with Him, so it would be with the Spirit.                       (Sadler)

These words give the disciples present, and future generations of believers, great confidence that they would be safe from deviation provided they too remain ever listening to the Word from the Father and carrying out all that He commanded, through His Son. Those who seek the truth can rest assured that they will be lead into a full apprehension of the whole Truth. Thus we can say that Christian revelation is never a passive reception of understanding. Our spiritual understanding will depend also on our zeal, searching, effort, commitment, application, listening, attention and (let us take note) the priority we give to God’s message in our daily lives.

Verse 14

He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine
and declare it to you.

Nothing like this had ever been heard of before! Let’s read how one theologian comments, to try and get the full impact of our Lord’s words.

Notice how the Spirit comes to glorify the Son, just as the Son
took no glory to Himself, but ascribed all glory to the Father.
See how the Persons of the Godhead seek to do honour One to
Another. The Father commits all judgment to the Son, “that all
may honour the Son just as they honour the Father.”
(chapter 5: 22 ― 23). The Son seeks not His own glory, but the
glory of Him who sent Him (chapter 7: 18). The Holy Spirit
comes to glorify the Son.                                          (Sadler)

When we begin reading verse 14, we may get the impression that Jesus’ revelation of God’s love was incomplete, or imperfect, which the Holy Spirit would supplement. This is not so. The revelation of Jesus is a full and perfect revelation, but on our part, it is imperfectly received. Thus the Holy Spirit illumines the heart to bring home to it the things of Jesus Christ. The Spirit does not so much bring new knowledge as the power of Jesus’ word, which is ever able to confront fresh challenges and illuminate new hearers.

Verse 15

Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told
you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

Our reading closes with Jesus reminding us of the most amazing heritage into which we are born again. If we would but listen to what He is saying, take it to heart in silent wonder, and let it rule in our lives, there is hope that the whole world would hear the Gospel message of Jesus Christ. They may try to block their ears, but they will be given the opportunity to hear the Word of God, and respond to Him.

 

Conclusion

We give glory to God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit when we listen obediently to His Word and hold it as treasure in our heart and mind.

Let us hope that we will continue to pray for one another and meditate on the Word — the Living Word within the words — and be greatly blessed in His service. In our day, as in ancient times, God pleads for his people to keep their attention fixed firmly upon Him:

Israel, if you would but listen to me!(Ps 81: 8)

Shalom!

 

Further Reading

For those who would like a detailed study resource
on the readings for Sunday, please visit:

Agape Bible Study — 12 Ordinary ― Year B

If you require only the section on the Gospel reading,
just scroll down the page.

To view all the material on the Agape website please visit:

www.agapebiblestudy.com

This website is highly recommended.

 

Proclaim the Gospel to Every Creature

(Mark 16: 15)

Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so,
remain close to Him. The following are only examples illustrating how you
can note the gems the Holy Spirit highlights for your on-going reflection.

Life In The Spirit Glorifie’s God

6th Sunday of Easter Year B           St. John 15: 26 — 27 and 16: 12 — 15

1.   Jesus said, “….. the Spirit of truth will guide you to all truth“.

      Our Lord’s Apostles did not “go all philosophical” and debate, “What is truth?” For them the truth meant the Great Truth of all time, the Torah: the Divine Word ― the Law ― the Teaching of God in His Scriptures and in the instructions handed down by God’s anointed. When God promised to write His Law in the hearts of His People, it was the promise of the Holy Spirit given long ago through the Prophets.

      Jesus declared for all time the very central core of the Truth about God, when asked, which is the first (greatest) commandment of all?

Jesus replied, “The first is this: ‘Hear, O Israel! The
Lord our God is Lord alone!

You shall love the Lord your God with all your
heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and
with all your strength.’

The second is this: ‘You shall love your neighbor as
yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater
than these.”                           
(Mark 12: 29 ― 31).

      The whole Law and the Prophets depend on these two commandments.
                                                                                               
(Matthew 22: 40).

      All of the Teaching of Jesus expands this great Truth for His followers. The role of the Holy Spirit is to guide us ever more intimately into this Truth.

2. In talking about the work of the Holy Spirit, Jesus said,

He will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

      On this occasion He was talking to His eleven chosen Apostles ― but talking in a way which demonstrated that this beautiful intimacy was a gift they were authorised, indeed commanded, to pass on down the line to future generations of disciples.

      We share in that privilege as members of His own household, to enjoy spiritual intimacy with Him, and to draw New Life from this.

3.    As with the ancient Israelites, so it is with us, that “the truth” is no abstract, densely philosophical concept.

       We have it from our Lord Jesus Christ, that He Himself, is the physical embodiment of God’s entire revelation of the truth about His love for all humanity. To know our Messiah, the Lord Jesus, is to know the truth: to know it as one who is part of it, and who is commissioned to bring others to it. Jesus chose to talk of this within the intimacy of family. He bids us to bring others into His Household, His family — where they can receive from Him the love, care, forgiveness and restoration they need.

That is the Truth!

      Armed with the Spirit of Truth, and with God’s Word written on our hearts and minds, we are ready to live the Truth, and give witness to its power in our own lives. Only then can we pass on the great Truth of our Faith to others, and draw them to Jesus and His Teaching.

 

Prayer to the Holy Spirit

 

To The Holy Spirit

Holy Spirit, Spirit of Jesus by whom he was anointed at his baptism by
John, and by whom his Body which is the Church was anointed with
Pentecostal fire, come down upon the Church and upon all who have
been consecrated to you — all who in baptism received you, all who
in confirmation were sealed by you, all who by priesthood have been
set aside by you for the service God and of men.

Renew in us all the graces by which we have been sanctified, washed
clean of our sins, and made temples of your indwelling.

Let us no longer grieve you by our faithlessness or indifference,
but rather filled with your fire, let us love you with that love
which is poured abroad in our hearts by your coming to us.    Amen.

    From “Devotions to the Holy Spirit,” by Brian Moore, S.J.
                            Published by St. Paul Publications 1976.
                                                          Used with permission.

Click here for a printable copy of these Reflections

 

John 15: 9 — 17

Pentecost Sunday           Year B

NEW AMERICAN BIBLE

John 15: 26 — 27 and 16: 12 — 15

 

John 15:

26 “When the Advocate comes whom I will send 12 you from
the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father,
he will testify to me.

27 And you also testify, because you have been with me from
the beginning.

12 [26] Whom I will send: in ⇒ John 14:16, ⇒ 26 the Paraclete is to be sent by the Father, at the request of Jesus. Here the Spirit comes from both Jesus and the Father in mission; there is no reference here to the eternal procession of the Spirit.

 

John 16

12    “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now.

13    5 But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you
         to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak
         what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are
         coming.

14    He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine
         and declare it to you.

15    Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told
         you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.

5 [13] Declare to you the things that are coming: not a reference to new predictions about the future, but interpretation of what has already occurred or been said.

 

this work are taken from the New American Bible,
revised edition (c) 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian
Doctrine, Washington D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright
owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may
be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the
copyright owner.

 

 

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