In today’s gospel Jesus speaks of these three things and tells us that we can enjoy them in our lives without much effort. First he speaks about love, telling us that he has loved us just “as the Father has loved me”. Now that’s a big statement to make, because we know that the Father’s love is so huge that we can hardly imagine it. This is because, simply put, God is love, as St John says. God’s love is so big that we cannot separate the one from the other. They are one and the same thing. And Jesus loved us with this kind of love, the extremity of which is shown in the fact that he gave his life for us. There is no greater love than this, he says.
Coupled with this is the fact that, for him, we are his friends more than anything else. Speaking of friendship, the great Lebanese-American poet Kahlil Gibran said: “without words, in friendship, all thoughts, all desires, all expectations are born and shared, with joy that is unacclaimed.” And Jesus did exactly that. “I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.” As a true friend, he has hidden nothing from us. The great Italian mystic St Catherine of Siena understood this too well when, during one of her conversations with God, she hears him say to her, “If you love me the way a servant loves a master, I as your master will give you what you have earned. But I will not show myself to you, for secrets are shared only with a friend who has become one with oneself.”
This leads us to the third element of our reflection for today: joy. “I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete,” Jesus says. Contrary to what some people, unfortunately, may think, this is Jesus’ sole desire for us: that we have joy in our lives, joy in its fullness.
The only condition that Jesus puts for us to achieve all this is that we listen to his commandment, which is “love one another as I have loved you.” This is the paradox of Christianity. In our lives we may seek joy in so many different things, sometimes even bad or harmful things. But Jesus is telling me that, if I really want to have joy in my life, I have to die for others just as he did. It is a love that knows no boundaries, that expects nothing in return, that is not limited by anything – not even by harm or injustices received by others – because it is bigger than all of this.
Today’s gospel leads us to ask some questions: Am I happy in my life? Where do I seek to find joy? Am I comfortable with considering God as friend? Have I truly accepted the fact that God loves me unconditionally, not because I deserve it, but because that is simply how God is? Do I manage to love others with this same kind of love?
As we continue to adhere to the stay-at-home order, we would do well to use some of our time during this coming week to reflect on these questions, and see where it leads us.