“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete” (John 15:11).
What is this referring too? “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.”
And what is his commandment? “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”
Even when life appears pretty dark and division and suffering seem to be waiting around every corner, we need not give up, give in to cynicism, and/or fall into despair. God wants us to experience joy and fulfillment despite our experiences and not through being lemmings or slaves but as Jesus said, “friends”. The friends of Jesus are those who hear and share the word that Jesus has received from his Father which are his commandments, the greatest of these is to love.
We will be happy and fulfilled when we align our will with the will of God who is Love. St. Irenaeus taught that the joy of God is the human being fully alive. For us to be fully alive, we are to love as God loves us. God keeps inviting us to receive his love and his joy, to be happy. Many of us do not experience the fullness of this joy because we are distracted and diverted by what appears to be good. With time and experience, we often find in fact they are not. Much of what we expend our energy doing are feeble substitutes.
Neither will we experience fulfillment and joy through denying, covering over, or being so busy that we don’t have to face the sufferings in our or other’s lives. We ease and grow from our suffering by entering into it. Jesus meets us in our suffering with his arms wide open and we begin our healing at the root. By willing our good and the good of others, we can alleviate some of the suffering in our realm of influence as well. Each day we need to decide if we are to curl up into our shell or to be an agent of healing and love and by doing so, we can make our corner of the world a little better.
Photo: With JoAnn, who taught me how to come out of my shell, to live and to love.