Winston Elliott III is Founder and Publisher of The Imaginative Conservative. Additionally, he is Visiting Professor of Liberal Arts and Conservative Thought at Houston Baptist University. He is a parishioner of the Cathedral of Our Lady of Walsingham, where he was received into the in Church in 2001. Mr. Elliott is a member of the Board of Directors of Wyoming Catholic College and served on the Board of the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology. He is married to the author Barbara J. Elliott and they have four children and ten grandchildren (so far).
In that day you will ask nothing of me. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name. Hitherto you have asked nothing in my name; ask, and you will receive, that your joy may be full. “I have said this to you in figures; the hour is coming when I shall no longer speak to you in figures but tell you plainly of the Father. In that day you will ask in my name; and I do not say to you that I shall pray the Father for you; for the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father. I came from the Father and have come into the world; again, I am leaving the world and going to the Father. (John 16:23-28)
Our Lord Jesus is preparing the Apostles for His death on the cross. They do not know this of course. But now Jesus is speaking of “that day.” Is “that day” a reference to the three days He will be away from His disciples before the resurrection? Is He preparing them for when He will ascend to heaven? He doesn't explain. They, as usual, don't understand what He is telling them. They love Him as a friend and teacher but they do not understand His truth and nature. Not yet. But, Jesus admits that up until this time he has been speaking to them in “figures.” But, the hour is coming when He will tell them “plainly of the Father.” He will set their hearts on fire on the road to Emmaus. And again in the Upper Room. Then once more by the Sea of Tiberias when He stood on the beach and called out, “Children, have you any fish?” Within moments of hauling in the fish Peter is in the water swimming to His beloved Teacher. And finally on the mountain immediately before His ascension. But was that the end of “speaking plainly of the Father?”
No, for the Father and the Son sent the Holy Spirit. So Jesus, in unity with the Father and the Spirit spoke to the Apostles after His ascension. And He continues to speak to us today. The Word of God speaks of the Holy Trinity to us in His word, in the Holy Spirit and in the sacraments of His Church. Why is so much effort expended on our behalf? We who are slow to listen and slow to love. According to Jesus it is because “the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have believed that I came from the Father.” Without Divine Grace we can't begin to understand such Love. But, with it we can begin to love as God loves us. Our Lord Jesus, who “came from the Father... into the world...” is “leaving the world and going to the Father.” But in His love for us He never leaves us alone. We are welcome in the Holy Community of the Blessed Trinity. How amazing and how wonderful is so great a gift? Thank you Lord.
In the Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation the Second Vatican Council gives us great gifts of wisdom and truth. The Council Fathers, inspired by the Holy Spirit, remind the Church in Dei Verbum 21: “For in the sacred books, the Father who is in heaven meets His children with great love and speaks with them; and the force and power in the word of God is so great that it stands as the support and energy of the Church, the strength of faith for her sons, the food of the soul, the pure and everlasting source of spiritual life.” We believe that Sacred Scripture (along with the Magisterium, the Sacraments and Church tradition) reveals the love our Father has for every one of us. It seems so simple, and so beautiful. And yet, still so much remains a mystery.
Let us end this time of reflection by praying with St. John Chrysostom as he asks: “O Lord Jesus Christ, open the eyes of my heart, that I may hear Your word and understand and do Your will, for I am a sojourner upon the earth. Hide not Your commandments from me, but open my eyes, that I may perceive the wonders of Your law. Speak unto me the hidden and secret things of Your wisdom. On You do I set my hope, O my God, that You shall enlighten my mind and understanding with the light of Your knowledge, not only to cherish those things which are written, but to do them; that in reading the lives and sayings of the saints I may not sin, but that such may serve for my restoration, enlightenment and sanctification, for the salvation of my soul, and the inheritance of life everlasting. For You are the enlightenment of those who lie in darkness, and from You comes every good deed and every gift. Amen.”