Ode to joy


By Deacon Bill Hagen
For the Umatuna Si Yu’os

A reflection from the May 23 Thursday Gospel according to John 15:9-11

I looked up the word “joy” in the dictionary and found it to mean great happiness’ feelings of great exhilaration especially of an elevated or spiritual kind or something that brings extreme gladness’ a pleasurable aspect of something or source of happiness. In tonight’s Gospel, we hear Jesus tell his followers that he wants his joy to be in us. Can we imagine what Divine Joy is like? Jesus tells us “Love one another as I have loved you” and “I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.” He tells us that if we keep his commandment, we will remain in his love and his joy will be in us. Jesus only gave us one new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you.

In this world, keeping a commandment or following a rule is done for different reasons. We obey because our job depends on it. We follow the rules of society or we may have difficulty with the law. We follow the law to avoid punishment or loss of reward. Or, we comply with an instruction in the hopes of receiving compensation. And we can do all of this without love, but that is not what Jesus is asking of his followers.

Jesus wants us to love one another, not to be compliant, but because we desire it, out of love for the other. He is not asking us to respond to a written set of rules but to act in response to our love for him and for the other. We can follow his instructions to feed the hungry, cover the naked, and visit the sick, but if we do so without love it is a meaningless act.

Our reaction to tonight’s Gospel should be one of examining our motives and to ensure that we act out of love for the other in all that we do and then we will be living in the joy of Christ. Then we will remain in God’s love and live in God’s joy.