Lectio Divina: John 16:12-15
1) Opening prayer
Lord God, our Father,
You are not far away from any of us,
for in You we live and move and exist
and You live in us
through Your Holy Spirit.
Be indeed with us, Lord,
send us Your Holy Spirit of truth
and through Him deepen our understanding
of the life and message of Your Son,
that we may accept the full truth
and live by it consistently.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
2) Gospel Reading - John 16:12-15
Jesus said to his disciples: "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."
• During the Easter Season, the Gospels of each day are almost always taken from chapters 12 to 17 of the Gospel of John. That reveals something regarding the origin and the destination of these chapters. They not only show what happened before the Passion and the death of Jesus, but also and above all, the living out of faith of the first communities after the resurrection. They express the Paschal faith which animated them.
• John 16:12: I still have many things to say to you. Today’s Gospel begins with this sentence: “I still have many things to say to you but they would be too much for you to bear now.” Jesus says two things: the farewell, which characterized the Last Supper, and the concern of Jesus, the older brother, for His younger brothers, who within a brief time will be left without His presence. The time left was very short. The work begun was not yet complete. The disciples were just at the beginning of their apprenticeship. Three years are a very short time to change life and to begin to live and to think in a new image of God. Their formation was not yet finished. Much was still lacking and Jesus still had many things to teach them and to transmit to them, but He knows His disciples. They are not among the most intelligent. They would not be capable of knowing all the consequences and implications of discipleship now. They would become discouraged. They would not be able to bear this.
• John 16:13-15: The Holy Spirit will come to their help. “However, when the Spirit of truth comes, He will lead you to the complete truth, since He will not be speaking of His own accord, but will say only what He has been told and He will reveal to you the things to come. He will glorify Me, since all He reveals to you will be taken from what is Mine.” Jesus’ assertion shows the experience of the first communities. In the measure in which they sought to imitate Jesus, trying to interpret and apply His Word to the various circumstances of their life, they experienced the presence and the light of the Spirit. This even happens today in communities which try to incarnate the Word of Jesus in their life. The root of this experience is Jesus’ message: “Everything the Father has is Mine that is why I said, ‘all He reveals to you will be taken from what is Mine.”
• The action of the Holy Spirit in the Gospel of John. John uses many images and symbols to signify the action of the Holy Spirit. As in creation (Gen 1:1), the Spirit also descends on Jesus, “in the form of a dove, come from Heaven” (Jn 1:32). It is the beginning of the new creation! Jesus speaks the words of God and communicates the Spirit without reserve to us (Jn 3:34). His words are Spirit and Life (Jn 6:63). When Jesus bids farewell, He says that He will send the Paraclete, Consoler, another Defender, who will remain with us. It is the Holy Spirit (Jn 14:16-17). By His Passion, death and Resurrection, Jesus won for us the gift of the Holy Spirit. By Baptism all of us have received this same Spirit of Jesus (Jn 1:33). When He appeared to the apostles, He breathed on them and said, “Receive the Holy Spirit!” (Jn 20:22). The Spirit is like the water which springs from within the people who believe in Jesus (Jn 7:37-39; 4:14). The first effect of the action of the Spirit in us is reconciliation: “If you forgive anyone’s sins, they are forgiven; if you retain anyone’s sins, they are retained.” (Jn 20:23). The Spirit which Jesus communicates to us has multiple actions: consoles and spreads (Jn 14:16), communicates truth (Jn 14:17; 16:13), makes us remember what Jesus taught (Jn 14:26); will give witness to Jesus (Jn 15:26); manifests the glory of Jesus (Jn 16:14), will convince the world concerning sin and justice (Jn 16:8). The Spirit is given to us so that we may understand the complete meaning of the words of Jesus (Jn 14:26; 16:12-13). Encouraged by the Spirit of Jesus we can adore God in any place (Jn 4:23-24). Here lies the liberty of the Spirit of which Saint Paul speaks: “Where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Cor 3:17).
4) Personal questions
• How do I live my adherence to Jesus: alone or in community?
• Has my participation in the community led me to sometimes experience the light and the strength of the Holy Spirit?
• The instructions Jesus gave are simple, yet can still be difficult to bear out in total fulfillment. How do I let the Holy Spirit strengthen me and help me to devote myself to His works?
5) Concluding Prayer
The name of the Lord is sublime,
His splendor transcends earth and heaven.
For He heightens the strength of His people,
to the praise of all His faithful,
the people close to Him. (Ps 148:13-14)