Acts 17:22-31; Psalm 66:7-18; 1 Peter 3:13-22; John 14:15-21
“Truth in spirit, not truth to the letter, is the true veracity.” – Robert Louis Stevenson
We are not left orphaned (John 14:18), in spite of the fact that we at times feel alone and abandoned due to life’s ups and downs, life’s achievements followed by misfortunes. Not only is Jesus himself coming to us, he has left us an Advocate to be at our side. (See Greek below) This Advocate he calls “the Spirit of Truth.” However, we are mistaken if we suppose the Spirit is going to defend us by giving us truth in the sense of information, data, intellectual content or facts that we can shape into dogmas, dogmas that we can impose as a litmus test for being a true Christian. As we scan this Gospel reading we see that the Spirit’s veracity is not “truth to the letter,” but is intimately tied up with Jesus’ commandments and love. We can search all of the New Testament and we will only find one commandment ever given by Jesus. In John 13:24, right before today’s passage, so it is fresh in the reader’s mind, Jesus says “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.” That’s the only time Jesus ever mentions a commandment from himself. This commandment to love is the truth that holds up in the Spirit’s court of law. St. Augustine in the fourth century said “Love and do as you will.” In other words with love we will do the right thing. Love creates a tight circle that is paradoxically tight and inclusive at that same time, never shunning or exclusive. Jesus speaks of a circle of love. He is in the Father, and we are in him and he is in us. (John 14:20) Let us look around and search out the neglected and lonely and keep the commandment, keep the circle going. That’s how we profess truth. We are not left orphaned; and we do not orphan anyone else.
John 14:16 speaks of the Advocate. Various translations use helper, intercessor, comforter, counselor, or the transliteration “paraclete.” The word actually comes from the legal system of the day used in court trials. It is what we would call the defense attorney.
Circle in draws all.
Commandment kept, orphaned not.
Thus truth defended.