ARTOS=BREAD (In the original Greek of the Prayer of Jesus, Luke 11). Here it stands for the community of readers who are saying the prayer at the start of each day.
may your name be kept holy
may your kingdom come.
Give us today the bread we need
and forgive us the wrongs we have done
as we forgive those who have wronged us.
And do not bring is into hard testing.
The first three lines of the prayer speak to the Father; the next four speak to the Spirit; while the whole is the prayer of God’s Son offered as a prayer of God’s children. It is a small map of the Christian Way.
This blog follows the Revised Common Lectionary, which gives readings for each day in the year. A headline from world news is also given to provoke meditation.
The Promise of the Holy Spirit
15 ‘If you love me, you will keep* my commandments.16And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate,* to be with you for ever.17This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in* you.
18 ‘I will not leave you orphaned; I am coming to you.19In a little while the world will no longer see me, but you will see me; because I live, you also will live.20On that day you will know that I am in my Father, and you in me, and I in you.21They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them.’22Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’23Jesus answered him, ‘Those who love me will keep my word, and my Father will love them, and we will come to them and make our home with them.24Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; and the word that you hear is not mine, but is from the Father who sent me.
25 ‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you.26But the Advocate,* the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I have said to you.27Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled, and do not let them be afraid.28You heard me say to you, “I am going away, and I am coming to you.” If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father, because the Father is greater than I.29And now I have told you this before it occurs, so that when it does occur, you may believe.30I will no longer talk much with you, for the ruler of this world is coming. He has no power over me;31but I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father. Rise, let us be on our way.
These profound words are John’s version of “what Jesus wanted to tell his disciples”.The contain not only words that Jesus may have spoken but the richness of at least sixty years reflection on Jesus’ life by the Christian community that bore the name of “John”. The essential teachings of this passage are:
1. Those who love Jesus will keep his “words”, that is, his commandments and teachings.
2. After his death, Jesus will no longer be a physical presence with his disciples.
3. Instead a new “advocate” (one who supports their cause) will be with them. This is the Holy Spirit of truth.
4. The coming of the Spirit is described as “making a home” in his disciples. This Spirit can also be described as the presence of the Father and of Jesus, because the Father sends the Spirit in Jesus’ name. In this sense the whole Godhead takes up residence in the believer who becomes a “house of God.”
5. This promise, that Jesus will not leave them orphaned, is his “shalom” his farewell gift of peace in the face of his own death, in which he allows “the ruler of this world” the illusion of victory, although the latter has no power over him.
These teachings define crucial aspects of Christian discipleship in all generations. There is no hocus – pocus in Christian faith. Neither the Father nor Jesus (himself) are present in this world. The Father is known by his creation; Jesus the Son is known by his disciples’ memory of him; but the one present with the disciples and their community is the Spirit. This Spirit may seem to outsiders to be just the confidence of believers in the Way and Teaching of Jesus, but the believers know it as the agent of their rebirth as children of God. In the Spirit they are “born from above”; in the Spirit God dwells in them. Of this spiritual reality worldly people know nothing, because only faith can perceive it.
As always when read this passage I am challenged, no, struck dumb would be more accurate, by Jesus’ words, “If you love me you will keep my commandments”. I want to protest, “no, no, Lord, I do love you in spite of not keeping your commandments.” But He only laughs and asks, “Are you trying to rewrite the scripture?”