Love and the Gift of the Holy Spirit
As we come closer to the celebration of the Ascension and then the Feast of Pentecost, we are called to prepare for the gift of the Holy Spirit. Even prior to his crucifixion, Jesus tries to prepare his disciples for his departure, and for the coming of the Holy Spirit, but they are understandably confused: “Where are you going?” asks Peter, and “why can’t I follow you now?” Thomas adds “Lord we do not know where you are going; how can we know the way?” The context for all of this discussion is the new commandment: to love one another as Jesus himself has loved. In today’s reading this love becomes well defined: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.”
Loving Jesus is equated with keeping his word, which, as we see here, is keeping his commandments. His commandments, of course, are found in the summary of the law: love God above all things and love your neighbor as yourself. “Love one another, even as I have loved you.” Jesus goes on to say that keeping his commandments is to remain in his love: “If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love.” (John 15:10) Abiding in his love, which is the state in which the Father and the Son come to make their home within us, is the expression of that true joy that knows no bounds. As Jesus concludes: “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11)
It is also our love for Jesus which opens us up to the gift of the Holy Spirit. This love allows us to see Jesus and to experience the love of the Father: “He who has my commandments and keeps them, he it is who loves me; and he who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and manifest myself to him.” (John 14:21) Thus in love Jesus makes himself known to us, and promises the gift of the Holy Spirit as well as the presence of the Father and himself. In short, true love, as expressed by Jesus himself, is the gateway to life in God and the source of our complete joy. This is the goal, the prize, the reward of our life of discipleship.
Knowing, therefore, the true goal of our Christian life, let us ensure that our lives are fitting dwelling places for God. Let us continue to love one another as Christ has loved us, and open ourselves up to the indwelling of the Holy Spirit so that we may come to say with St. Paul, “it is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 2:20)