When Jesus says, in today’s gospel, “Whoever loves me will keep my word,” he wishes to remind us that, though it is easy to say that we love him, it is far more difficult to obey him by offering our love to our fellow humans. Such concern for others will be the indispensable proof of our authentic love of Jesus, for to love Jesus means ultimately to commit oneself to imitate his unconditional love of others.
This challenge is very difficult, and may even seem impossible at times, but our feeble efforts will be strengthened by the love of the Father—the same divine Father whose love is revealed in Jesus. And when we allow that divine love to flow through us, we will discover that both Jesus and the Father will make their dwelling with us in an ineffable mystical communion. Nothing could be more desirable.
Jesus promises to send us the Advocate, which is the special name John gives to the Holy Spirit. An advocate is one who stands with another to take away that person’s fear and sense of aloneness or inadequacy. This divine Advocate will thus dwell deep within us and will continue the work of Jesus by drawing out all the implications of his teaching.
John’s gospel is full of reminders that Jesus has come among us to reveal the true nature of God as one who cherishes his love far more than his power. It is for that reason that Jesus is called the Word of God, for he reveals what is hidden in God just as our words make known our hidden thoughts.
When we accept in faith the testimony of Jesus about the love of God for us, we are liberated from the need to worry excessively about ourselves and are thus enabled to become more and more aware of others and more ready to share our love with them. When this happens, we are drawn into that powerful flow of life and love which courses between the Father and Jesus. In this sense, we can understand how the Father and Jesus will “make their dwelling” with us. When this happens, we discover for the first time the real meaning of our lives, for we will then become what our creator has always intended us to be.
The Advocate/Spirit is given to us, therefore, as one who stands at our side, in bright days and dark, to help us understand the reality of this love of God that Jesus offers to us. As we do so, we will become ever more united with Jesus who has revealed the Father’s love and who wishes to lead us back to the source of that love. It will be only then that we will begin to understand the meaning of coming home.
Demetrius R. Dumm, O.S.B.