“And here the first word that I wish to say to you: joy! Do not be men and women of sadness: a Christian can never be sad! Never give way to discouragement! Ours is not a joy born of having many possessions, but of having encountered a Person: Jesus, in our midst.” ― Pope Francis, The Church of Mercy
Gospel Text: (JN 15:9-11)
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”
Jesus gives us the secret to a life of complete joy: obeying God's commands. In Mt 22: 37 – 40, Jesus gives us the two greatest commandments: to "love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul and with all your mind" . . . and to "love your neighbor as yourself. The whole Law and the Prophets are founded on these two commandments."
This is the secret to happiness and yet many people do not heed the instruction. Why are we unable to obey God's commandments?
In today's world where individual freedom is so important, obedience seems to be losing strength as a value. Human power has been so emphasized that at times we no longer see the need for God. Plus in reality it is not that easy to follow God's commandments.
It is not easy to love God when we see and experience pain and suffering in life. We expect a God who provides for our needs, one who gives us good times and good things. How can we love a God who allows poverty and hunger, war and sickness, and so many calamities to come. Why?
It is also difficult to love others as ourselves because of our selfish nature and especially if the other seems unlovable, if the other does not love us and even hurts us. How can a son respect a drunkard-father? A wife an unfaithful husband? A friend who has cheated?
The Lord does not provide easy answers. He simply calls us to remain in his love and promises true joy. This is the obedience Jesus showed: despite pain, rejection and suffering, he remained faithful to what the Father wanted.
The obedience and love Jesus showed are beyond our ordinary logic. With loving obedience, he believed all will be well.
We are called to do the same. Are we willing to forego logic and trust and remain in God's love?