Sixth Sunday of Easter Year C
Keeping one’s word is a mark of honour in any society. To be asked to keep someone else’s word, as in today’s gospel reading, calls for a shift in our usual patterns of thinking and acting.
Jesus is the Word, the word of God in human form, the embodiment of God’s communication with the world. Jesus also speaks God’s word. The disciples are to demonstrate their love for Jesus by keeping the word that he both embodies and articulates. In other words, they are to live as Jesus has lived and be faithful to what he has taught in God’s name. Each will thus become a dwelling place for the divine.
The implications of this teaching are overwhelming. It seems to me that if we truly believed the words of the Johannine Jesus, we would consistently treat each other with the utmost reverence and respect.
Jesus refers once more to his imminent departure. When he is no longer physically present, God’s Advocate, the Holy Spirit, will be with them. The Greek word translated as ‘advocate’ carries a range of meanings. It literally means ‘one called alongside to help’ whenever necessary. In other words, the disciples need not be troubled or afraid because they are never alone. The Holy Spirit, the Advocate, is always with them to defend them, to intercede for them, and to comfort them.
Once again, Jesus gifts his friends, this time with the gift of peace, a peace ‘that the world cannot give’. In John’s gospel, the ‘world’ often refers to whatever is opposed to Jesus as God’s Word. True peace comes from being centred in God.
Earlier in this chapter of John’s gospel, the Advocate is called the Spirit of Truth who remains with them and is actually in them. Only through the power of the Spirit will the disciples be empowered to ‘keep the word’ of Jesus.