Acts 14:5-18; John 14:21-26
The gospel reading today gives us chance to reflect on one of the fundamental mysteries of our Christian faith: the Trinity. All three of the divine persons are part of the reading from John’s gospel. The passage is an excerpt from the long and beautifully nuanced discourse Jesus gives to his disciples before his death. The passage in its entirety is a kind of “last will and testament” of Jesus to his closest friends and companions. It is Jesus’ way of continuing to let himself be known to the disciples and of helping them to look forward to the day when he would not be with them any longer in the flesh.
What would life be like for them after his death and resurrection? A good answer to that question can be found in the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles There we discover Paul and Barnabas proclaiming the Good News in Lystra and Derbe. Immediately before that, they were the objects of the peoples’ wrath (“there was an attempt in Iconium. . . to attack and stone Paul and Barnabas”).
What follows is the disciples “doing what Jesus did”: like Jesus, they were to be the object of scorn by many to whom they brought the Good News; like Jesus, they healed the man lame from birth; and, like Jesus, they were prematurely venerated and they fought against such an idolization. But all this activity gets us a bit ahead of the story in today’s readings.
Where did these disciples get the courage and strength to stand in the place of Jesus as they do here? The impetus for that flowed out of their faith in Jesus to whom they committed their lives for service. That fortitude comes from the Holy Spirit that Jesus promised his close friends in today’s gospel passage.
“Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father and I will love (that person) and reveal myself to him/her.” And not only that, but Jesus promises that He and the Father will come to that person and “make our dwelling with them.” That reminds us to refer back to the prologue of John’s gospel which culminates in the incredible claim that the Word “pitched his tent” among us human beings, that he was made “flesh” for us so that we could all share in his Trinitarian life – life with the Word (made flesh in Jesus the Christ) who came from the Father to be our rescuer and with Their Holy Spirit sent to us to bring about faith-actions that link us together (sisters and brothers) and to the Holy Trinity.
That is the same Holy Spirit promised by Jesus “the Advocate whom the Father will send in my name.” That same promised Holy Spirit inspired and led the actions of Paul and Barnabas and continues to invite you and me to be “like Jesus” and to be partners in bringing the Good News to others. What a grand opportunity that is for us – to receive faith (hope and love) from a God who loves us without measure and to Partner with Jesus who not only “pitched his tent” with us, but wants us to work alongside Him in service of others.
And, here’s the beautiful part: that same Holy Spirit continues to offer you and me that same invitation to “be like Jesus” and, come what may, find and bring the good news to others by our lives, our actions and even our words. What a grand opportunity that is for you and me – to receive faith (hope and love) from a God who loves us without measure and to bring the good news to others like Barnabas and Paul did.
By Tom Shanahan