Reflection on John 14.21-26 (Easter 5: Monday; Easter Season)

A reflection for Easter 5: Monday, 9 May 2023, on John 14.21-26

John 14.21-26

Jesus said to his disciples, ‘They 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.’ 

Judas (not Iscariot) said to him, ‘Lord, how is it that you will reveal yourself to us, and not to the world?’ 

Jesus 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. Whoever 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. 

‘I have said these things to you while I am still with you. But 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.’


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.

A few years ago I heard a newly-appointed vicar being berated by a long-standing parishioner. I cannot remember the offence the newcomer was supposed to have committed, but I do remember the words of the parishioner. In all seriousness he stared the vicar in the eye and said, ‘Within a year you will stop changing things and put everything back exactly as it was because you will have come to realise that everything we did before you arrived was perfect!’ The vicar ignored the absurdity of that parishioner’s words and the life of the parish flourished, but in different ways.

In today’s reading Jesus speaks of a very different time that lay ahead. He speaks of that post-resurrection and post-ascension time when the Holy Spirit will become an active force for change in this world. Sadly, many who profess a faith in Jesus Christ often struggle with the ways in which the Holy Spirit teaches us and reminds us. The struggle we have is with the requirement to change.

The whole of the gospel narrative is about the need for change. John the Baptist preached of repentance in preparation for the coming of the Messiah. That repentance, or turning around, meant radical change. Standing in opposition to the religious leaders of the time meant radical change. The command to love our enemies as well as our friends flew in the face of our natural instinct to seek vengeance rather than reconciliation. The list goes on and on. As the promised Advocate, the Holy Spirit, teaches us and reminds us he invites us to change the way we think, the way we speak, the things we do and the way we interact with others.

As we go through daily life we may feel our consciences reminding us of the path we should be following, rather than the one we are actually travelling. Day by day we are presented with choices that tempt us to become deaf to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. Every time we take that spiritual or moral shortcut we are refusing to humbly accept the teaching and the reminding of God’s Advocate as we pursue the paths we have mapped out for ourselves.

The vicar ignored the curmudgeonly and disgruntled parishioner and sought to follow the path illuminated by the Holy Spirit. We are called to be equally determined when confronted by those who would lead us in the wrong direction. We are called to ignore human wisdom and only allow ourselves to be taught and reminded by the Holy Spirit that the paths we map out for ourselves are those of pride, greed and self-regard. We are called to follow Christ alone in all we say, think and do … even if it does leave us feeling that we are constantly swimming upstream!