Joy in Christ
I read this sad story about a father who, while washing his brand-new car, heard a scratching sound and saw his eight-year-old son writing something on the car door. In a fit of anger, he hit the hand of his son so hard unknowingly with a wrench that the boy had to be brought to the hospital.
When he came home, he looked at the car and on it were the words written: “I Love You, Daddy.”
Jesus commands us to love one another because the Father loves Him and so He loves us too. That is why in today’s gospel He says: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you, remain in my love,” (v. 9). Through these words, Jesus says to us that He loves us because the Father loves Him first. He loves us very much because the Father loves Him very much as well. His Father’s love for Him is everlasting, selfless and undying and so also His love for us is everlasting, selfless and undying. As the Father loves Him, so does Jesus loves us in the same measure of His Father’s love for Him.
And so I invite you to reflect on the three words Jesus is saying in today’s gospel. First, Jesus says: “As the Father loves me,” (v. 9). For me, I am sure that God the Father loves me and really cares for me. It is because His love for me is, above all, personal. Even if I experienced trials and difficulties in life just like this text message I received a long time ago, God still loves and cares for me as He loves and cares for Jesus. His love for me is unparalleled. His love for me does not change. The text message I received says: “Sometimes God breaks our spirit to save our soul. Sometimes He breaks our hearts to make us whole. Sometimes He sends us failure so we can be humble. Sometimes He sends us illness so we can take care of ourselves better. Sometimes He takes everything away from us so we can learn the value of everything we have.” Do we believe in God’s love for us?
Second, Jesus says: “Remain in His Love,” (v. 10). Communion with Christ is so important but how do we go about it? Today’s gospel tells us how. It is by keeping God’s Commandment that we can remain in Him and remain in His love. It is because Christ Himself keeps it and remains in His love. Constancy of God’s love is what makes it different from our love. It is because our love is fickle, temperamental and fluctuating. Our love depends upon our moods, feelings, circumstances and successes. But God’s love is unchanging and always faithful. What only changes, is our openness to God’s love and our response to His call and grace. We remain in His love when our love learns to depend more and more upon His love. Somebody said: “The more I am aware of His love, His blessings and His kind will toward me, the more I will respond with constancy. To remain in His love is to live permanently in an attitude and posture of grateful self-giving, to seek and give what He is asking.”
Third, Jesus says: “That your joy may be complete,” (v. 11). We always think of “Commandments” as constraints, impositions and limitations. Yet Jesus always keeps His Father’s commandments. He obeys them. His obedience is motivated by love for the Father. His obedience was a free, intimate and personal act of fulfilment. Our obedience to God is an authentic affirmation of what God calls us to be, to be His children. We may not feel like obeying but our love wants to fulfil His plan. This is the obedience that produces joy and not any joy but the joy of eternal happiness, remaining in His love.