“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth… I will not leave you desolate; I will come to you…If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him , and we will come to him and make our home with him…But when the Counsellor comes , whom I shall send to you from the Father, even the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness to me; and you also are witnesses, because you have been with me from the beginning…I have yet many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now . When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth; for He will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said He will take what is mine and declare it to you.” (John 14:15-16a, 18, 23; 15:26-27; 16:12-15)
This Sunday is Pentecost, the celebration of the fulfillment of God’s promise to fill our lives with His presence by sending to us the Holy Spirit. In the fourteenth chapter of John Jesus makes two of the most beautiful promises in all of Scripture, promises which he asks us to receive with great confidence.
The first is the promise that we shall be with him in heaven:
In my father’s house are many rooms, if it were not so, would I have told you that I go and prepare a place for you, and when I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again and take you to myself that where I am, there you may be also. (v2-3)
The second is the promise that he will be with us (actually in us) on earth:
I will not leave you desolate: I will come to you.
This is the promise of his presence in the Eucharist and of the gift of the Holy Spirit, fulfilled in our baptism and experienced in its fullness the deeper our relationship of love is with him. This promise is made even more poignant when we realize the Greek word we translate as “desolate” is orphanos and that the word we translate as “Counselor” is Parakletes, which is one who is sent in to help or strengthen. We will never be orphaned; he will always be there to help and to strengthen. We will never walk alone.
Both of these promises are for everyone, for everyone is invited to put their trust in him. However, the promises are able to be fulfilled only in those who love him: If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father and He will give you another Counselor, to be with you forever. Note that the love required is not mere affection or sentimentality, but obedience. William Barclay wrote correctly,
”To John there is only one test of love and that is obedience. It was by obedience that Jesus showed his love for God; and it is by our obedience that we must show our love for Jesus.”
This requirement creates no small amount of anxiety in me since the level of my love–at least the level shown by my obedience–is far less than I would wish or than He deserves. Nevertheless, I am not to worry, for he who made the promises wants to fulfill them in my life even more than I want them fulfilled. If I cooperate, He will make a way. He will meet me where I am and the Holy Spirit, the Paraklete, the One sent to help, will help me to grow in love, and so growing in love, grow also in my realization of his presence here and in my confidence of being with him in heaven.
As we cooperate with him, he wants us to rest in the firm assurance that one day we shall live with him and that until that day He will live every day with us. We are not to worry; he is faithful that promised.
Fred Durham is the President of Alighieri Press and serves as an author and speaker.