The Gospel Today
Sixth Week of Easter
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden Nuique):
“I will not leave you orphaned.” These may be the most comforting words that Jesus tells us, Christians who are not eyewitnesses to his human existence two thousand years ago. These words are also revealing of the true nature of our Lord.
These words console us because it means that our daily joys and sufferings, triumphs and defeats, reprieves and struggles are always accompanied by Christ. No matter how lonely we feel, we are not alone. No matter if we think ourselves failures, we are not worthless. The Apostle Paul says,
Therefore, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have obtained access to this grace in which we stand; and we boast in our hope of sharing the glory of God. And not only that, but we also boast in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance, and endurance produces character, and character produces hope, and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us. (Rom 5, 1-5, NRSV)
It is in Christ’s assurance that He will not leave us orphans by asking the Father to send the Holy Spirit that we are consoled.
Yet, Jesus does not stop at simple reassurances – He brings us to the fullness of truth. By saying that He will not leave us orphans, He seems to imply that we are not just His brothers and sisters; we are His children, His beloved sons and daughters. In this, we encounter the mystery of the Trinity, three Persons in one God. The Nicene Creed, which we recite in place of the Apostle’s Creed, exemplifies this truth: Jesus is consubstantial with the Father, the Holy Spirit is consubstantial with both. They are one. The evangelist John writes in his Gospel account, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God… and the Word became flesh and lived among us.” (cf Jn 1: 1; 14)
“I will not leave you orphaned.” These words of Jesus the Christ console us because they bring us to the fullness of truth: God is with us. However long we have been alive, God lives with us. I am thirty-seven years old, I have worked as a professional for ten years before entering the seminary, and in my third year of priestly formation I have embraced this truth and my entire being trembles. The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is with me – has always been with me. Even though I have left my family and loved ones to become a priest, I am not alone for God is with me. Even if I no longer have the financial security implied by having a job, I am safe for God is with me. Even if I have no certainty about the future, I am peaceful for God is with me. I cannot exhaustively explain this truth. I can only say that I feel God is with me in my flesh and in my bones; my gut twists and turns as I relish its portent; my mind reels as I look at my past and gaze into the present; and I feel a great desire to remain forever with Him who has loved me from eternity to eternity. This certainty of God and His uninterrupted presence in my life is what I pray that you, my reader, become aware of in your own existence. We are not orphans.