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.”
Reflection: What does Jesus mean when says “…your joy might be complete”? Does He want us to be happy? Like most kids, I wanted a bicycle. I dreamed about a banana seat Stingray with a sissy bar in the back. I could see myself cruising around the neighborhood and I would be happy. I never did get the Stingray. What I got was my brother’s hand me down that I eventually striped, painted, put back together. I rode the “you know what” out of that bike, and yes, I was happy until the next stage in my life. Then, I thought a new minitruck with a matching camper shell and custom paint job would do the trick. That did not happen. But I did get to drive my dad’s 63 Plymouth station wagon that would go from 0 to 60 in half an hour. Was I happy? Yes, but only for a while and occasionally.
We spend most of our waking hours in pursuit of what we believe will make us happy. Money, a cute girlfriend or boyfriend, a cool place to live, the latest sneakers (yes, I am old because I still say sneakers), cell phone, or gadget. Have you ever seen a dog chase its tail? That is us chasing an elusive and fleeting happiness that is not the same as what Jesus offers us. I am not saying material things, success or relationships are bad. And yes, they can bring us happiness. But joy goes way beyond the temporary feelings of happiness.
Have you ever felt peace in the midst of a tragedy, trial, or struggle? Something deep inside of you that despite the pain and suffering kept you anchored and would not let you completely drown in your despair? That is the joy of knowing Jesus is there, with you, holding you tight. It is the awareness and acceptance that you are so loved that if you were the only person who ever existed Jesus would still have come to live, suffer, die, and rise again so you could have eternal, wait for it…JOY!!
We can’t earn this joy. All we have to do is keep His commandments and we will remain in His love. Before we start going down that road of the do nots, shall nots, will nots, let’s remember the GREATEST commandment. Love God and your neighbor as yourself. And if we aren’t sure that Jesus meant what he said he added, “The whole law and all of the prophets depend on these two commandments.” True joy is knowing we are loved no matter what! In good times and in bad. Go and pursue the dreams that will fulfill your temporal needs. But, never let them get in the way of the joy that will outlast and outshine our wildest dreams.
Action of the Day: Pick a moment or a few throughout today and give thanks to the Lord for what you are doing, expereincing or enjoying. This too shall pass. The good times and the bad don’t last forever. Our lives here are oh so short. Keep His commandments and let that joy burst out in appreciation of others. Things are to be used, people are to be loved. Go and be the Good News.