It is about allowing the word of Jesus to form our hearts and shape our lives.
Remembering & making present
Our reading of The Farewell Discourse in John’s Gospel (13:31-17:26) continues
in the Gospel for today as Jesus makes a number of promises to the disciples.
The opening words say that those who love Jesus will keep his word. This is not like keeping road rules. It is about allowing the word of Jesus to form our hearts and shape our lives. Throughout John’s Gospel the word that Jesus speaks is about his boundless affection for the Father and the disciples.
Another favourite theme of John is that, just as the Father and Jesus abide together in love, they will also come to abide in the heart of the disciple.
It is this bond of love that creates the ‘dwelling place’ for God in the heart of the disciple. There is no separation from the Father; the disciple does not need to look to a heavenly place in order to experience the presence of God.
Jesus promises that the Father will send the Advocate, the Holy Spirit, to help the disciples ‘remember’, that is, to understand more deeply the words and actions of Jesus, especially his death and resurrection. This remembering will make Jesus present to them.
Abiding in the love of Jesus and the Father brings a peace that cannot otherwise be found in this world, so the disciples have no need to be afraid of the future, not even the impending departure of Jesus. In fact, if they are already truly abiding in the presence of God and Jesus in their hearts, why should his physical departure disturb them?
Jesus does not speak these words in the sense of foretelling the future, but rather to prepare the disciples for their daily ‘remembering’ of, and making present, his words and actions in their own lives.
This Gospel begs us ask ourselves if we are truly people who remember Jesus and allow his Spirit to shape our words, thoughts and actions so that he may remain present to us and to those around us.