Gospel Lectio Divina for Pentecost, May 23, 2021
Jesus said to his disciples: “When the Advocate comes whom I will send you from the Father, the Spirit of truth that proceeds from the Father, he will testify to me. And you also testify, because you have been with me from the beginning. I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth. He will not speak on his own, but he will speak what he hears, and will declare to you the things that are coming. He will glorify me, because he will take from what is mine and declare it to you. Everything that the Father has is mine; for this reason I told you that he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.”
And you also testify
We often don’t even know what moves us to talk about God, but we do despite our doubts. A desperate situation moves us to pray. A serendipitous moment moves us to thank God. As believers, it’s almost second nature for us to acknowledge God’s truth and providence. Curiously, Christ is not asking us to testify here. He’s not telling us to either. He’s simply saying that we do testify. How true is that statement when you think about it, though? Now that the Holy Spirit has been given to us, the truth of God being with us is self-evident. We don’t have to even be told to believe. Faith is already alive within us, and so God’s word simply serves as an explanation of that abundant life we already felt within us but may not have been able to identify. This is similar to what happens after we receive our first sacraments. Many of receive baptism and First Communion before advanced catechesis, and before Confirmation, when we receive the Holy Spirit. But that’s appropriate because, just as Christ explains here, we had to be prepared before we could receive his Spirit. That’s what Christ did for his first disciples, and therefore it’s what the Church does for us with the sacraments of baptism and First Communion.
I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now
One can imagine Jesus being extremely excited when he says this to the disciples. He’s like a friend who just got back from an amazing experience, and can’t contain his joy. “I have so much to tell you,” but now’s not the right time, he says. Just wait and you’ll see. You can’t possibly fathom all the marvel and wonder of the things God wants to show you. But you’re not ready … not yet. Wait for my holy Spirit, and he will guide you. Many people wonder why God won’t just give us the answers to the biggest questions we have. It’s because we are like children in God’s eyes, and if he were to give us the answers before we were ready, we wouldn’t understand them anyway. That’s why he gave us his Holy Spirit: to guide us to the truth.
But when he comes, the Spirit of truth, he will guide you to all truth.
To this day it does indeed seem like those who believe in Christ have an inclination for finding the truth. No one else seems so concerned about it. Christian philosophers in the Middle Ages developed the scientific method for finding the truth about the natural world. In a court of law, before testifying we say, “I swear to tell the truth … so help me God” while placing a hand on the Bible. And when someone doesn’t believe in God, it’s common for other concerns to take the place of truth; like money, power, fear, fame, or popularity. We see this in mainstream media and politics constantly, where the truth is dismissed and replaced by the opinion of whoever has the most money, power, or influence. Also, when people don’t believe in God, they often go so far as to believe there is no truth, or that all truth is relative, rather than admit that truth does exist. When we abandon God, our abandonment of truth is not far behind. But for those who believe in God and the Truth who is Jesus Christ, things are different. Upon further examination, Christ’s words here are not just platitudes to make us feel good about believing in him. Being guided to the truth isn’t just a special perk we get for having faith in Jesus. It’s not just a bonus. It’s the whole reason Jesus is calling us to faith, and it’s life-changing. When we have faith in God, our whole directive and priority in our life changes. It’s like going from living in darkness to stepping into the light. Except, as C.S. Lewis explained it, the faith doesn’t just become the truth we see. It becomes the light by which we see everything else.
he will take from what is mine and declare it to you.
These words seem kind of cryptic at first, but think about them a little more deeply and you may notice that Christ is talking about Tradition here. Not even the Holy Spirit can come up with stuff on his own. It’s all based on the Word, meaning the truth revealed to us through Scripture. Christ is saying that even the Holy Spirit will depend on the truth revealed through the Son, because the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father and Son. Earlier Christ also said the Holy Spirit does not speak on his own. This is important to remember when people suggest that the Church change its teachings to catch up with the times. It’s also helpful to remember when someone claims that the Holy Spirit revealed something to them that is not based in Scripture. Perhaps we can take a moment to thank God for this clarity when it comes to hearing his voice.
Lord, we are here longing for the truth to which you said your Holy Spirit will guide us. We thank you for counting us among your disciples to whom you have shown the truth. Please keep revealing it to us as we remain in your light. Guide us not just today but every day so we can see life’s worth and see your hand and your glory in everything around us. In Jesus’ name we pray. Amen.
As I write this I sit outside and I hear crickets in the woods. Sometimes they’re used as a synonym for silence; and that’s appropriate because in the silence we can more easily hear God, and even the crickets testify to his truth as they sing of the fact that he gave us a world teeming with life. No matter where we turn, we cannot escape him. We can only hide enough to not see him, but even then he still sees us. Don’t be afraid to reveal your heart to him. He already knows you better than you know yourself, and he wants to reveal deeper truth to you if you would just listen in the quiet.
David Kilby is a freelance writer from New Jersey and editor of Catholic World Report.
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