by Fr. Tommy Lane
We continue our journey from Jesus’ Resurrection to his Ascension. In the Gospel today (John 15:9-17), we listen in on the conversation between Jesus and the apostles during the Last Supper. John the Evangelist shares this conversation with us because not only was Jesus’ conversation for strengthening the apostles but for our benefit also. Today we heard Jesus begin, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” (John 15:9) The Father loves Jesus and in the same way Jesus loves us. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” Think of how much the Father loves Jesus. We cannot even begin to imagine how much the Father loves Jesus but we see the Father expressing his love for Jesus in the Gospels. When Jesus was baptized, the heavens opened and the Spirit descended on Jesus and the Father spoke, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased.” (Matt 3:17) When Jesus was transfigured on the mountain and shone brilliantly white, once again the Father spoke and said, “This is my beloved Son with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.” (Matt 17:5) When you love someone you show that love in various ways such as words of affirmation, spending quality time together, helping the other. When Jesus was baptized and transfigured, the Father expressed his love for Jesus, “This is my beloved Son.”
Jesus says he loves us just as the Father loves us. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” Later in today’s Gospel Jesus explains how he loves us, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13) Jesus laid down his life for us. This is the greatest love anyone can show. When someone loves us they show it and Jesus showed his love for us as he laid down his life for us on Calvary. The Father loves Jesus and Jesus laid down his life for us on Calvary.
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” Then Jesus says “Remain in my love.” (John 15:9) Jesus is inviting us into this relationship of love between the Father and Jesus himself. Jesus wants that for us. Jesus offers that love between the Father and himself to us, “Remain in my love.” How do we remain in the love of Jesus? Where do we receive the love of Jesus? Just as we show love to another by spending quality time with that person, we can receive the love of Jesus by spending quality time with Jesus. If we don’t spend quality time with Jesus, how can Jesus spend quality time with us to give us his love? We spend quality time with Jesus by praying every day. Quality time is not just a hurried grace before or after meals, or a hurried prayer last thing at night. Quality time with Jesus is spending quite some time every day in prayer with Jesus. Find a way to pray that suits. To begin praying, the atmosphere has to be right. We can pray in the church or adoration chapel or when praying at home the room has to be quiet, without distractions, and comfortable. Praying together as a family is great because praying together unites people. We are familiar with the saying, “The family that prays together stays together.” Just as our bodies need to be nourished by food, our prayer also needs nourishment so you could begin your prayer by reading a passage in one of the Gospels and using that to help you to pray and reflect and meditate. Or you could read a passage from a good Catholic spiritual book just before praying so your mind is already raised to God when you begin to pray. It is quite ok to talk to God about your day when you pray. We can come before God just as we are with all our issues and problems and joys and hopes. Spending time with Jesus’ mother, Our Lady, who is also our spiritual mother, is beautiful especially as we honor her during this month of May and the most beautiful way to spend time with our spiritual mother, Our Lady, is to pray the Rosary to her.
As we spend quality time with Jesus and his mother, something happens gradually. As we pour out our thoughts to God and also think about the words of the Lord to us in the Bible, we gradually soak up the words of God to us and they become part of us. We discover that the words of the Bible are a love letter from God to us. As we spend quality time with Jesus to allow him spend quality time with us, we get new insights into life and into our lives and the world around us. We also become happier and that time in prayer with Jesus every day is the happiest part of the day. Then the words of Jesus in the Gospel today make sense, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.” (John 15:11) Also many studies have shown that prayer is good for our health. As we spend time in prayer with Jesus and get new insights into life and the world around us and gradually soak up the words of God to us and they become part of us, we also see that there is a way to live that pleases Jesus. Then what Jesus says in the Gospel today makes perfect sense, “If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.” (John 15:10) In fact, when living that life of Jesus, commandments don’t even seem like commandments but are the natural way to live for someone living with Jesus. So how do we remain in the love of Jesus? The answer is simple and Jesus himself gives us the answer; we remain in Jesus’ love by keeping his commandments. This is not a restriction at all but pure joy because it all flows from spending quality time with Jesus to allow him spend quality time with us.
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 (John 15:9-10)
© Fr. Tommy Lane 2018
More Homilies for the Sixth Sunday of Easter Year B
Related Homilies: God’s covenantal love for us 2010
Love of God for us 2009
on laying down life for friends see St. Damien of Molokai