|by Angela (Lambert) Jendro|
May 6th, 2018 6th Sunday of Easter
Gospel of John 15:9-17 NAB
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 may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
Here in this passage, Jesus tells you directly, “I love you.”
How much you might ask? What kind of love? The term is thrown about loosely these days and unfortunately often conditional. The popular children’s books Guess How Much I Love You? (by Sam McBratney) and I Love You to the Moon and Back (by Amelia Hepworth) attempt to describe the greatest possible love a person could have for another, making them beloved stories for parents and children. Jesus too attempts to describe the greatest possible love He could have for you – “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” As the Father loves Jesus! To the moon and back is quiet a distance, but the Father loves infinitely, totally, purely, passionately, and eternally. Jesus has this love for you!
And He invites you to remain in His love. How wonderful it is to remain in the sun after a long winter, to linger on the beach past sunset during a vacation, or to relax at home with your significant other or your best friend after a busy week. Relationship with Christ means soaking up the warmth and brightness of His light, lingering on the beauty of His Word in Scriptures, His presence in the Sacraments, and His presence in your heart. It means enjoying being with Him in activity and in the quiet of home.
Making time to rest in these things can be hard however. Our schedules fill quickly to overflowing and the pull of work and achievement rushes us away from the joy we desire. These same distractions work our souls into a frenzy and tempt us to set Christ to the side until we “get everything done first.”
However, experience proves that making the time to step back from activity for rest and relaxation actually increases overall productivity. Skimping on sleep and vacation days frazzles our nerves, dulls our judgment, and kills our creativity. Refreshing ourselves on the other hand gives us the energy to approach our work with our best selves and often provides new inspiration.
Remaining in Jesus’ love requires stepping away for time alone with Him. Just like we need sleep and food every day, we need prayer every day. Resting in the Lord for 30 minutes will refresh your soul and provide the spiritual energy to approach everything in your schedule with Christ’s companionship and aid.
In addition, it will grow our love and each stage of love brings out our best selves at ever deeper levels. First, love makes us joyful, energetic, and generous. Think of newlyweds or those newly in love. They’re easy to spot by their glow, their bubbling joy, and their extra energy. They see all the best in each other and look forward to every little opportunity to demonstrate their love. When we abide in Christ’s love, that same excitement bubbles up and we look for ways to demonstrate our love for Him in even the smallest of details. Moreover, just as young love relates everything back to their beloved (sometimes obnoxiously so to those around them!), Christian love sees Christ in every person they encounter and every event of their day. This love then imbues their activity, bearing even richer fruit and produces works of charity towards those around them.
As the love grows deeper and the relationship develops history together with time, the commitment and concern for one another becomes apparent in a couple’s intimate knowledge of each other and patient forgiveness. As relationship with Christ develops it runs deeper as well. We get to know Him more intimately and experience His patient forgiveness with a heart of respect and gratitude. This can’t help but extend to our neighbor as an opportunity to show Christ the love and commitment He has shown us.
Finally, perfect love sacrifices joyfully and immediately for the beloved. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” I’ve experienced this as a mother as have most parents – I wouldn’t stop to think for even a split second if I had to lay down my life for my child. Christ chose to become man and He chose to lay down His life on the Cross for us. Although He suffered immensely every step of the way to Calvary and for the three hours nailed to the Cross, He didn’t consider even for a split second walking away at the expense of our salvation. How can we give Him anything less than our entire selves and our whole lives in return?
When we abide in His love, we abide in Him, His love for us, and His love for others. In this relationship of reciprocal love, He assures us that “Whatever you ask the Father in My Name He will give you.” If we love authentically, for what would we ask other than to increase our love for the Lord, to become better disciples, and for the things Jesus wants for us. Moreover, we will see others with the heart of Jesus and desire the blessings He desires for them.
As the Father loves the Son, the Son loves us; and as the Son loves us, we are to love one another. Jesus wants us to share in His ministry, to share in His love for us and others. Therefore, when we abide in Him, whatever we ask in His Name, He will give because He wants us to bear fruit in His work.
So today, let us remain in Jesus’ love for us. May He “lead us beside still waters and restore our souls” (Psalm 23:2-3). Then, may that joyous love overflow into every detail of our day and every encounter with Christ in those we meet.
- Meditate on Jesus words “so I also love you.” Jesus is Truth and His words are true. He loves you as you truly are, to your very core.
- Consider the joy inherent in love. Even in the midst of trials or suffering, it remains and even increases when that suffering is for the person loved.
- Pray for the gift of seeing Christ in others. Ask for His love for them to be poured into your heart as well.
Make a Resolution (Practical Application):
- Pray Psalm 23 each day.
- Do intentional acts of love toward Jesus throughout the day by acts of love toward others. For instance, Christ is forgiving toward us, but we never have the opportunity to be forgiving toward Him back. Be forgiving toward someone else today as an act of loving forgiveness for Jesus. Jesus is so generous with us, but what could we give Him that wasn’t already a gift from Him? In consequence, be generous with someone today as an act of generosity toward Christ.
~ Written by Angela Jendro © 2018
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