God remains in us …. powerful!
Take time today and reflect on the words of 1 John 4:11-16
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we must also love one another. No one has ever seen God. Yet, if we love one another, God remains in us, and His love is brought to perfection in us. ….. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him/her”
It’s all connected: God-Others-Ourselves. All human beings are made in the image of God and loved by God. We are all brothers and sisters. As John reminds us, we must love one another. In our brothers and sisters, we encounter God. As difficult as it might be to grasp, they are the concrete manifestation of God in our lives. If we love them, we love God; if we dismiss them or hate them, we dismiss and hate God. John reminds us that love of God and love of others are intimately connected. If we wish to remain in harmony with God, we must strive to be in harmony with others. God remains in us….but for that relationship to be dynamic, we must seek to love one another.
In today’s Gospel, John 16:23b-28, we hear consoling words from the lips of Jesus:
“…the Father Himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God. I came from the Father and have come into the world. Now I am leaving the world and going back to the Father.”
Jesus came from the Father. He is One with the Father. He is the Son of God. He is God. He took on human flesh and became one of us because He loves us. He came to save us from ourselves – to break the bonds of sin that enslave us. He suffered and died for us; rose from the dead and ascended to heaven where He awaits us with the Father. Our destiny is not the grave but life forever with Him.
Consoling words of Jesus. Do we believe them? Do we live in hope?
If you are attempting to live a Christian life, you know that it is not easy. We live in an increasingly secular world that seeks to drive Christians into the catacombs. Christians are savagely persecuted in many countries around the world. In others the persecution is more subtle. Witnessing to Jesus by seeking to live out His teachings can result in being ridiculed, dismissed or discriminated against. In “free world” countries like the United States, the move is to eliminate the public face of Christianity and relegate it to church buildings. Christians are increasingly retaliated against when they seek to exercise their rights to live out their beliefs especially when it comes to issues of morality.
In today’s Gospel, John 16:20-23, Jesus says to His disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” Jesus tells His disciples – not only those of two thousand years ago, but you and me today – that we will suffer in various ways for attempting to live out His teachings and to witness to Him. We will grieve, and the world will rejoice as it represses Christians, but in the long run our grief will become joy. Having walked the road to Calvary with Jesus, we will experience the joy of resurrection with Jesus.
Friends! We are called to be His friends! Whoever heard of a Divine Person calling a frail human being His friend. Yet, that is precisely what Jesus does in today’s Gospel, John 15:9-17:
“You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves … It was not you who chose me, but I chose you …”
Jesus says that we are no longer to be slaves. We are called to be His friends – that means being in an intimate relationship with Him. How do we become His friends? We do so by doing what He commands us: to love one another as He has loved us; live out His teachings as summarized in the Sermon on the Mount and be an active disciple by witnessing to Him in our little corner of the world.
What is Jesus asking of you and me – today and every day!
In today’s Gospel, John 15:12-17, we hear Jesus loud and clear:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you!”
Simple; profound and all-encompassing. “Love one another!”
What kind of love is Jesus talking about? It’s certainly not a romantic love; a sentimental love or some kind of theoretical love. No. The kind of love that Jesus is talking about is concrete. A good definition is: Love is the choice that I make for the good of another.
Throughout His life and ministry, Jesus made concrete choices for the good of others, e.g., the healing of lepers; the forgiveness of sins. Jesus’ total self-giving for others led Him to the Cross. He gave His very life so that we might live.
Most of us will not be giving our lives literally for others; but all of us are called upon to make choices daily for the good of others. We are called to be inclusive and all-embracing especially with those that we do not like.
Jesus’ commandment to love is not just some pious exhortation that we can admire but then put aside. It is a mandate to go beyond our self-centered comfort zones and become our best selves. Love one another!