Lectio Divina: John 16:5-11
1) Opening prayer
Lord our God,
if we really believe in You and in Your Son,
we cannot be but witnesses.
Send us Your Spirit of strength,
that we may give no flimsy excuses
for not standing up for You
and for the love and rights of our neighbor.
Make us only afraid
of betraying You and people
and of being afraid to bear witness.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord.
2) Gospel Reading - John 16:5-11
Jesus said to his disciples: "Now I am going to the one who sent me, and not one of you asks me, 'Where are you going?' But because I told you this, grief has filled your hearts. But I tell you the truth, it is better for you that I go. For if I do not go, the Advocate will not come to you. But if I go, I will send him to you. And when he comes he will convict the world in regard to sin and righteousness and condemnation: sin, because they do not believe in me; righteousness, because I am going to the Father and you will no longer see me; condemnation, because the ruler of this world has been condemned."
• John 16:5-7: The sadness of the disciples. Jesus begins with a rhetorical question that makes evident the sadness of the disciples in light of of detachment from Jesus: “Now I am going to the One who sent Me; not one of you asks, ‘where are you going?’” It is clear that for the disciples, the detachment from the lifestyle lived with Jesus implies suffering. Jesus acknowledges this, saying “Yet you are sad at heart because I have told you this” (v. 6). Saint Augustine explains the sentiment of abandonment of the disciples: “They were afraid to think of losing the visible presence of Christ... they were grieved, saddened in their human affection at the thought that their eyes would no longer be consoled in seeing Him.” (Commentary on the Gospel of John, XCIV: 4). Jesus tries to dispel this sadness, due to the fact that they will not have His presence, revealing to them His departure. He says that if He does not leave them, the Paraclete will not be able to join them; if He returns to the Father, He will be able to send the Paraclete to the disciples. His departure and the detachment of the disciples makes possibility the coming of the Paraclete: “because unless I go, the Paraclete will not come to you...” (v. 7).
• John 16:8-11: The Mission of the Paraclete. Jesus continues to describe the mission of the Paraclete. The term “Paraclete” means “advocate,” that is, support, assistant. Here the Paraclete is presented as the accuser in a process that is carried out before God and in which the accused is the world, which has made itself guilty for condemning Jesus: “He will show the world how wrong it was, about sin, and about who was in the right and about judgment” (v. 8). The Greek verb elègken means that He will make an inquiry, He will question, will test: He will bring to light a reality and will furnish the proof of guilt.
The object of the confutation is sin: He will give the world the proof of the sin that it has committed regarding Jesus and will expose it. What is the sin in question here? - that of unbelief (Jn 5:44ff; 6:36; 8:21,24,26; 10:31). Besides, for the world to have thought that Jesus was a sinner (Jn 9:24; 18:30) is an inexcusable sin (Jn 15:21ff).
In the second place He will “refute” the world “concerning justice.” On the juridical level, the notion of justice which adheres more to the text is the one which implies a declaration of guilt or innocence in a judgment. In our context this is the only time that the term “justice” appears in the Gospel of John. Elsewhere there is the term “just.” In John 16:8 justice is linked to all that Jesus has affirmed about Himself, that is, the reason why He is going to the Father. Such a discourse concerns His glorification: Jesus goes to the Father. The disciples will no longer be able to see Him. He is about to trust and to submerge Himself completely in the will of the Father. The glorification of Jesus confirms His divine filiation or son-ship and the approbation of the Father regarding the mission which Jesus has accomplished. Therefore, the Spirit will directly show the justice of Christ (Jn 14:26; 15:26) protecting the disciples and the ecclesial community.
The world that has judged Jesus, condemning Him, is condemned by the “prince of this world,” because he is responsible for His crucifixion (13:2,27). Jesus, in dying on the Cross, is exalted (12:31) and He has triumphed over Satan. Now the Spirit will give witness to the significance of the death of Jesus which coincides with the fall of Satan (Jn 12:32; 14:30; 16:33).
4) Personal questions
• This is the beginning of our exposure to the Trinity. What is my relationship with the Holy Trinity?
• Do you allow yourself to be led by the Spirit, the Paraclete, who gives you certainty of the error of the world and helps you to adhere to Jesus, and therefore, leads you into the truth about yourself?
• Very few go forth with the intention to sin or do evil, but rather, they are misled or confused. What do you do to discern the authentic influence and advice of the Paraclete versus being mislead?
5) Concluding Prayer
I thank You, Lord, with all my heart,
for You have listened to the cry I uttered.
In the presence of angels I sing to You,
I bow down before Your holy Temple. (Ps 138:1-2)