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Showing posts from May 16, 2021

The Counselor, The Holy Spirit (John 14:15-17)

 At first, the words of Jesus in verse 15 seem much too hard. But if we remember that for St. John, "love" is that supernatural fellowship with God Himself, then we realize that loving God and keeping the commandments are not things that we simply try to do; we let God take control of us, and live through us. Jesus says he will ask the Father, and the Father will give us the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of truth. He is God, along with Jesus the Son of God, and of course, God the Father. We remember--as we said before--that "world" for St. John is everyone who is opposed to God's will. So Jesus is telling his apostles that they did receive the Holy Spirit when he washed them. That's why he told Peter, "If I do not wash you, you will have no part with me." Therefore, the foot-washing was the Christian baptism for the apostles. The Holy Spirit lives in all of those who receive Jesus. And as we will see, he guides the apostles, and theref

Greater Works Than These (John 14:12-14)

 Jesus starts speaking here with that familiar, "truly, truly, I say to you…" which reminds us that he intends to teach something new. It's the language of a prophet. Jesus says that those who believe in him will do greater works than he does, and that is truly shocking. Jesus going to the Father will be the reason that we receive this new power to do these greater works. Everything that we are able to do in the spiritual life is somehow connected to the work that Jesus has done to save us. Jesus is not trying to say that God will give us houses, boats, cars, and money in His name; he is trying to encourage us to trust him with everything that we need, especially spiritually. If we want to be more spiritually fruitful, and we ask for those gifts, those are the prayers that are always answered. The great saints in ages past are great not in themselves, but in their willingness to trust Jesus with everything that they are. We can do this, too!

"Show us the Father..." (John 14:8-11)

 St. Philip is the first one to walk right into the teachable moment. Then again, we all know this feeling: How do we believe in Someone we cannot see? I think part of Jesus's surprise at Philip's statement is that Jesus just said that if they have known him, they have known the Father. Later apostles like St. Paul, and the author of the book of Hebrews, will show that they have learned this lesson well. It will take the Church many councils and centuries to understand what Jesus says about his relationship to the Father, and the relationship between the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. In other words, if it seems mysterious, you're in good company. The way Jesus answers makes it seem like they had talked about this before. We shouldn't think that what we get in the Scriptures is the only thing they ever said to each other. The Scriptures are meant for us. Once again, Jesus falls back on the Father's authority. Jesus says that the Father is doing His works in J

Your Trauma Is Not A Free Pass To Believe What Is False

 Yeah, I said it. It needs to be said. I also said this: "Sometimes, hierarchy and patriarchy can be a good thing." That does not mean that it is always a good thing, or that nothing bad has ever happened as a result of abuses by either one. But I'm not an egalitarian. At the moment, I can't figure out how to believe traditional Christian anything, if I actually believe that there are no meaningful differences between men and women. I want to be clear that I don't believe that any woman has to be meek and silent; I like women who are educated, opinionated, and downright spunky. But I think we know the difference between a woman who tells you what she thinks, and a woman who actually believes she'd be better off without you. I'm just generalizing here, but in my experience, men need to feel useful. If you say, "I don't know how you get through life without killing yourself," or, "You'd be dead if I weren't here," well, I woul

The Way, The Truth, and the Life (John 14:1-7)

 This is one of the places where the chapter divisions don't match up with the text. On the other hand, the chapter divisions were added because there was only so much that the monks could memorize. Jesus says, "Do not let your hearts be troubled," probably for several reasons. For one thing, he just told them he was going away. For another, he told them that one of their own would be his betrayer. And then of course, in this time, the relationship between a rabbi and his students was very close. They probably didn't know what to do next. "In my Father's house there are many rooms" has presented an opportunity for lots of debate over the centuries. Some commentators say that it means that people from different places all over the world can find a place in heaven. Others boldly suggest that it refers to different belief systems. I don't hold that particular view. I think we should understand this in a similar way to the "other sheep" stateme