The Gospel according to John (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.”
Opening Prayer: Jesus, thank You for loving me. Thank You for calling me to walk closely with You, and to share Your love with all I meet. Help me to remain in Your love and let Your love flow through me! Amen.
When I was a little boy, during the summer, the days that I recall looking forward to the most were when I got to go to “open swimming” at our local pool. It was one of those very large pools (multiple pools, actually, a little wading pool for the little ones, an in-between one for those who could only swim a little, and one with a couple of diving boards, including one you had to climb a ladder to reach). I have never been a strong swimmer, so, no, I never went up on that big diving board. But, I loved being in the cool waters, especially on those warm summer days.
The love that Jesus talks about in today’s Gospel is like that pool of cool, clear water. He intends for us to be literally “in” His love – immersed in His love, like being in a swimming pool full of it. He wants for us to know His love sustaining and supporting us like the water supports us when we are in that pool. And, just like we feel the coolness and the wetness of that water in the pool, He wants us to sense His love touching us, living within each one of us. That’s what He means when He says “remain in my love.”
Of course, we don’t always get to stay in the pool, do we? At some point, we have to get out of the pool, dry off, and go back to the rest of our lives. We can think of the way the cool water made us feel, but eventually (perhaps quite soon), we have only that memory, and soon, not even that. Our lives require us to live in a world that is quite barren in this way. It seemingly does not reward those who live a life of love and service to others. Yet, that is what Jesus Himself did, and what He calls us, His followers, to do, too. How do we do that?
This reading gives us a clue about that, too. Jesus points out that the reason that He wants us to “remain” in His love is that He wants us to experience not just any joy, but “complete” joy. He says that the way we remain in His love is to obey His commandments, but He doesn’t mean joyless following of rules. He means that we are asked to follow the commandments, but to do so with a joyful heart. How do we have joy in following commandments? We have it because they are helping us on the journey to our ultimate destination: heaven.
For Jesus, it’s not about the finite number of years that each of us have on this earth. No, it’s about preparing us for eternity with Him in heaven. The “complete” joy that Jesus speaks of is the joy that comes from knowing that we have, as Paul writes, “run the race” and “kept the faith”. That race is made up of living out Jesus’ love by sharing it with those whom we meet each day. It is made by truly willing the good of the others in our lives, as St Augustine wrote.
It also means knowing that we will not love perfectly, as we are not perfect. But, we love as best as we are able, and when we fail to love, we ask for God’s forgiveness and mercy, and for His grace to do better. Let us pray that God may show each one of us who He wants us to love, and give us the ability to do those loving actions, even if they are difficult. God will never give us more than we can manage.
Let us seek to jump into that pool of Jesus’ love, and feel the coolness reach our innermost hearts. Let it refresh us, and help us to be His servants and His ambassadors in the world today and everyday.
Closing Prayer: Lord Jesus, help me to dwell in Your love, and to be the one who makes a difference in the lives of those around me. Let me do it, not for praise from people, but because it is what gives You joy. Help me to spread Your joy, particularly to any of those whom you place in my path who are most in need of it! Amen.
Action for the Day: Take a few minutes today and reflect on Jesus’ love, and ask Jesus to show you someone who especially needs to sense His love through you!