The Spirit, in turn, glorifies Jesus because he opens the minds and hearts of people to his Gospel, gives them the strength to love even the enemies, renews relations between people and creates a society founded on the law of love. That is the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: a world in which all are his children and they live happily!

Solitary God or God of Communion?
Gospel reflection  – John 16:12-15
Fernando Armellini

It is the fifth time that, in John’s the Gospel, Jesus promises to send the Spirit, and says it will be the Spirit to carry out the project of the Father. Without his work people could never be able to accept salvation.

The passage begins with the words of Jesus: “I still have many things to tell you, but you cannot bear them now” (v. 12). This phrase might suggest that Jesus, having lived a few years, has not had the opportunity to convey his whole message. So as not to leave his mission halfway, abruptly interrupted by his death, he would send the Spirit to teach what was missing.

This is not the meaning. Jesus clearly stated that he has no other revelations to do: “I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father” (Jn 15:15) and in today’s Gospel he says that the Spirit will not add anything to what he has said: “he has nothing to say of himself, but he will speak of what he hears … . He takes what is mine and makes it known to you” (vv.13-14). He does not have the duty to supplement or expand the message but to enlighten the disciples to make them understand correctly what the Master taught. The reason why Jesus does not explain everything is not the lack of time, but the inability of the disciples to “bear the burden” of his message. What is it? What is the “too heavy” topic for their weak forces?

It is the weight of the cross. Through human explanations and reasoning, it is impossible to come to understand that the plan of salvation of God comes through failure, defeat, and the death of his Son at the hands of the wicked. It is impossible to understand that life is reached only by passing through death, through the free gift of oneself. This is the “total truth,” very heavy, impossible to sustain without the power communicated by the Holy Spirit.

In the First Reading, we have considered the project of the Father in creation. In the Second Reading, it was explained to us that this project is carried out by the Son, but we did not yet know that the path to salvation would be not only strange but even absurd. That’s why the Spirit’s work is necessary. Only he can lead us to adhere to the project of the Father and the work of the Son.

He will tell you of the things to come (v. 13). This is not—as claimed by the Jehovah’s Witnesses—the predictions about the end of the world, but the practical implications of Jesus’ message. It is not enough to read what is written in the Gospel; one needs to apply it to the concrete situations of the world. The disciples of Christ will not deceive themselves in these interpretations if they will follow the impulse of the Spirit because he is the one in-charge of guiding “into the whole truth” (v. 13).

To whom does the Spirit reveal himself? All Christ’s disciples are educated and guided by the Spirit: “You have received from him an anointing, and it remains with you, so you do not need someone to teach you … so remain in him, and keep what he has taught you” (1 Jn 2:27).

In the Acts of the Apostles, an episode shows the way and the privileged setting in which the Spirit loves to manifest himself.

In Antioch, while the disciples came together to celebrate the cult of the Lord, the Spirit “speaks,” reveals his plans, his will, his choices (Acts 13:1-2). Prayer, reflection, meditation on the Word, fraternal dialogue create the conditions that allow the Spirit to reveal himself. He does not miraculously send from heaven the solutions; he does not reserve his illuminations to some privileged member; he does not replace the efforts of people, but rather accompanies the passionate pursuit of God’s will that the disciples do together. That’s why, in the early Church, everyone was invited to share with the brothers what, during the community meeting, the Spirit suggested for the edification of all (1 Cor 14).

“He will glorify me” (v. 14). To glorify means for us to applaud, exalt, incense, magnify. Jesus did not need these honors. He is glorified when the Father’s plan of salvation is implemented: the evil becomes right, the poor receive help, who suffers finds solace, the unhappy resumes to hope and to believe in life, the lame man stands up and the leper is made clean. Jesus glorified the Father because he finished the work of salvation which he had been entrusted.

The Spirit, in turn, glorifies Jesus because he opens the minds and hearts of people to his Gospel, gives them the strength to love even the enemies, renews relations between people and creates a society founded on the law of love. That is the glory of the Father, the Son, and the Spirit: a world in which all are his children and they live happily!

Fernando Armellini 
Italian missionary and biblical scholar
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com