6th Sunday of Easter Year C
A Hebrew Catholic Perspective
St. John 14: 21 — 29
Our Gospel reading for this Sunday is taken from our Lord’s final teaching given to the Apostles before His arrest and trial. The text can be very complex, but the main points of His teaching, while profound, are nevertheless straightforward. Though not our usual practice, we have, in this meditation, gone a little beyond the appointed reading to include two earlier verses from this chapter of St. John’s Gospel to help us understand better, the immense richness of our Lord’s instruction.
Let us now do what the Church, Christ’s Body, has done since the Resurrection of the Lord: let us go back to our origins and contemplate the meaning of the extraordinarily rich teaching provided by Him in His last hours. On this occasion, we are joining Him on the last day of His mortal life. He has eaten His last meal with His Apostles, and He is now saying good-bye.
It is helpful to remember that our Lord is talking to His chosen, appointed Apostles. The Church has always taught that His teaching, His promises, His blessings are to extend to all who came to believe in Him through their service, and all whom they appoint, authorise and send forth down through the ages. All, in turn, are sent in His Name, likewise to serve Him.
Some Reflections on Our Text
“Having” and “Observing” the Commandments
Verses 21 and 22
Whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one
Judas, not the Iscariot, 11 said to him, “Master, (then) what
This brief explanation helps us understand how Jesus is our model as One who listens, loves and lives as Son of God (Verse 31)
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Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me
will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and
we will come to him and make our dwelling with him”.
Our text here is a literal translation of the Greek. One of the group asks the Lord a question. The Greek form of the first six words in English is a literal translation of the Hebrew “formula” introducing direct speech — in other words they are, to us, speech marks showing that what follows is a statement given by our Lord. And this statement was subsequently repeated in various forms in the Gospels and Epistles, such is its importance: “Whoever loves me will keep my word.” Thus Jesus is emphasising here what He has just spoken in verse 21:
“Whoever has my commandments and observes them is
the one who loves me.”
Our Lord goes further. He teaches that when a disciple observes His commandments (Verse 21) and keeps His word (Verse 23), then “…..my Father will love him and we will come and make our dwelling with him”. Earlier in this chapter, in verse 2, Jesus had said, “In My Father’s house there are many dwelling places”. The same word for dwelling has been used in both references. Thus there is an intended powerful imagery used here to impress upon the Apostles the intimacy and mutual indwelling of the disciples and Blessed Trinity.
Disciples of Jesus Messiah are members of the household of God! They are to prepare to share the closest possible intimacy with God by practising obedience to the Divine Will. The Jewish men hearing this teaching were soon to learn of its importance, especially as an affirmation of God’s continued presence in a hostile and seemingly “godless” world. This would prove a crucial understanding in their mission to all the nations; both for their own steadfastness in the Faith, but also as a dignity to be bestowed on all who would receive their message and likewise obey our Lord’s commands.
In the Biblical tradition, any reference to God’s continued presence is an unmistakable reference to the Holy Shekinah accompanying all who observe the Torah: the Words of God, the Instruction of God, the Way God laid out as a Path for His own to walk. Here, Jesus talks of those who “keep my Word” — He is, on His final evening with His beloved Apostles, openly aligning His Word with His Father’s: He is God’s mouthpiece — the Word of God — the Torah. Those who walk the Path outlined in His Teaching will be accompanied at all times (not just intermittently), by God’s Divine Presence. It is a continuing dwelling of God with us. To walk God’s Path, is to follow Jesus by observing His Commandments. And what will come of anyone who does this? “We will come to them and make our dwelling with them”.
“Whosoever does not love me does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father
who sent me.”
Here our Lord demonstrates that when His disciples obey His word, they are following His own example — for Jesus listens to His Father and what He hears He passes on to His disciples. Our Lord considers it important for His disciples to know this, for, as in verse 31:
“….. the world must know that I love the Father and that I
do just as the Father has commanded me.”
Jesus had already explained (Verse 11),
“I am in the Father, and the Father is in me.”
Thus the principle of observance and mutual indwelling is further reinforced. Remember, in Hebrew understanding, to observe means to listen to God’s Word, and follow the Path there outlined for His people.
Listening, obeying and living in the Sacred Presence (Verses 21 — 23) are associated with our Lord’s promise: to love those who follow this path and to reveal Himself to them. The word ‘reveal’ is used by St. John only in this dialogue. It is the meaning of the word used in Exodus when God reveals Himself to Moses. This is very significant. (See the Appendix)
Verses 25 and 26
“I have told you this while I am still with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, that the Father will send
in my name — he will teach you everything and remind
you of all I have told you.”
[As a doctrinal point here we should note how the Spirit of God and the Word of God are distinct persons within the Godhead.]
The disciples of Jesus Messiah will be given even more.
As the Son was sent in the name of the Father to do His works
and His holy will, so the Holy Spirit will be sent in the name
of the Son to enable the disciples to do His works, and
His holy will. After Jesus ascended to His heavenly throne
the Holy Spirit will complete the revelation of Christ by
enlightening the Church concerning the true and full meaning
of what Jesus had done and said. (Bruce Vauter, C.M.)
Thus disciples who remain properly connected with the Lord, united to Him by their constant listening, loving, and holy living, will continue to grow in their understanding of His teaching. The Holy Spirit will teach them everything they need to know for their life and witness. He will not present new doctrine, but will increase the knowledge and understanding of the disciples down through the ages.
Verses 27 — 29
“Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will
come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice
that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this before it happens, so that
when it happens you may believe.”
Here our Lord says, “I give you My Peace, my ‘Shalom’.” This is not just His parting, heartfelt good-bye before the final onslaught begins within the next few hours. Such a greeting would be entirely appropriate for fellow members of God’s household — as He has surely treated them. It is also the bestowal of blessing which can remain with the disciples. (Barnabas Lindars)
Their peace, their harmony and communion with God, (the seal of their Covenant in Christ) is a spiritual tranquillity having no resemblance to what the world gives. It will continue to reside in them — and those to whom they likewise bestow it in His Name.
It will be their precious possession which is always a personal gift of the Lord and which will never be taken away from the disciple who makes an honest attempt to keep His Word and His Teaching — His Commandments.
In all their trials and tribulations the Lord’s own faithful will retain His gift of “Peace”. This is the peace St. Paul later describes as the “peace of God that passes all understanding”.
The Lord is frank with them, “I am going away and I will come back to you”. He is referring to in the first instance to His departure and a return in the Person of the Holy Spirit; a permanent presence binding all believers together into His Body, the Church.
But the Lord’s words point also to a final return at the end time. His gift of the Holy Spirit, therefore, will be a companion to help them, and all who follow Him down through the ages, until He returns in glory. This may be an aspect of the whole account which has slipped a little from our attention.
Some Reflections on Shalom
From our Hebrew Catholic perspective, this gift of peace is a very special moment in our Lord’s final discourses with His dedicated Apostles. He has chosen the time carefully. Though St. John and the other Gospel writers position this slightly differently, we can say that it is in relation to the Passover and our Lord’s institution of the Eucharist Liturgy. It is a time of transition from the Eucharist to the Lord’s High Priestly Prayer and then to His arrest in the Garden of Gethsemene.
“I give you my Shalom, and leave it with you.”
Then he repeats, (Verse 1) “Do not let your hearts be
troubled or afraid”.
In other words:
“My very own peace I now give to each of you — to remain
with you and to accompany you through every situation.
Be careful not to let other people or circumstances destroy it
or compromise it. It will help you keep your faith in the Father,
and in me. The Holy Spirit will come to you when I depart,
to help you draw from this gift of peace whenever you choose.”
Shalom, peace, is a very special attribute of God, and to use it in a greeting is to wish its benefits on the person to whom it is conveyed. The word comes from the same origin as ‘shelmut’ and connotes wholeness, completeness and perfection (in the sense of fullness). In the Hebrew Scriptures it refers to well-being, tranquillity, prosperity, rest, harmony and serenity. Thus to greet someone using ‘Shalom’ is in fact to ask God’s most gracious blessings upon them; such is the esteem in which you hold them.
In Isaiah 9: 5 — 6,
For a child is born to us, a son is given us; upon his
shoulder dominion rests. They name him Wonder-Counselor,
God-Hero, Father-Forever, Prince of Peace.
His dominion is vast and forever peaceful, From David’s
throne, and over his kingdom, which he confirms and
sustains By judgment and justice, both now and forever.
The zeal of the LORD of hosts will do this!
the Prophet ascribes to the coming Messiah one of His most exalted titles, “Prince of Peace“. In our present passage, Jesus Messiah enacts this role and actually gives His Shalom to His Apostles. All of the blessings of Shalom will be theirs if they retain their faith in Him (Verse 1). They, and all who succeed them, will be dealing with people who seek prosperity, security and happiness in material possessions, money, sex, entertainment, etc. — in anything but the Christ, the Messiah. Their pursuits will lead in the opposite direction and ultimately to despair and barrenness. These souls too, must know what the peace of Christ can do for them in their disjointed and directionless lives.
In the contemporary Liturgy of the Eucharist, a beautiful “Sign of Peace” was extended and introduced to the whole congregation. When this custom was taken up the congregation greeted one another with, “The Peace of Christ be with you,” or “The Peace of the Lord be with you always,” or something equally dignified and significant. This was a direct connection with our passage here, i.e. John 14: 27, with all the spiritual meaning associated with the greeting. In some congregations today, this is sometimes more like, “Hi,” or “Hello.” Our reflections on the text will surely encourage us to enter into the spirit of our Lord’s gift of peace; for He was indeed administering (as “a Priest forever in the Order of Melchizadek” — Hebrews 7:17), the priestly blessing which was His to give:
“The Lord bless you and keep you!
The Lord let His face shine upon you, and be gracious to you!
The Lord look upon you kindly and give you peace!”
Amen. (Numbers 6: 24 — 26)
Whilst awaiting this glorious return, we are not expected to mark time on the spot. We have a wonderful mission to help Him build His Kingdom by preparing ourselves as well as others for this privileged life — or as our Lord put it, “to have life and have it more abundantly”. (John 10: 10).
We may be startled by the destruction and disintegration of our culture evident wherever we look. We may feel the task is quite simply staggering — beyond us! And so it is, humanly speaking. The Apostles who were being addressed on this occasion had to face just such a world. What a magnificent example they gave us, strengthened as they were by the Holy Spirit, promised by the Lord. Armed with all the weaponry of spiritual warfare, they brought the most powerful empire ever known to its knees. True, it was at the cost of martyrdom, and the Church in the 21st Century is well and truly facing this reality in many parts of the world. May we support one another with complete loyalty as we bear witness to our Lord Jesus Messiah and His message of hope and love. Amen.
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(Mark 16: 15)
The real Jesus is the real answer to the real needs of the world.
Let us remember God’s Teaching, contained in His Word and in doing so,
6th Sunday of Easter Year C St. John 14: 21 — 29
1. Our Hebrew Christian approach to chapter 14 of St. John’s Gospel focusses
“Whoever loves Me, will keep my word”.
Every manifestation of love within us is a reflection of, and product of, the
“May it be done to me according to your word.” (Luke 1: 38)
2. Our Lord talks about His disciples having and observing His word, His
a commandment always, ultimately, for the same reason — not for one’s
3. In many parts of the world, followers of Jesus Messiah are currently
Let us pray most earnestly for our persecuted members that in their
John 14: 21 — 31
6th Sunday of Easter Year C
21 Whoever has my commandments and observes them is
22 Judas, not the Iscariot, 11 said to him, “Master, (then) what
23 Jesus answered and said to him, “Whoever loves me will
24 Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet
25 I have told you this while I am with you.
26 The Advocate, the holy Spirit that the Father will send in
27 Peace 12 I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as
28 13 You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come
29 And now I have told you this before it happens, so that
30 I will no longer speak much with you, for the ruler of the
31 but the world must know that I love the Father and that
11  Judas, not the Iscariot: probably not the brother of Jesus in ⇒ Mark 6:3 // ⇒ Matthew 13:55 or the apostle named Jude in ⇒ Luke 6:16 but Thomas (see the note on ⇒ John 11:16), although other readings have “Judas the Cananean.”
12  Peace: the traditional Hebrew salutation salom; but Jesus’ “Shalom” is a gift of salvation, connoting the bounty of messianic blessing.
13  The Father is greater than I: because he sent, gave, etc., and Jesus is “a man who has told you the truth that I heard from God” (⇒ John 8:40).
Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised