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May 14, 2018 - Love + Remain = Joy

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

Scripture Readings

Today’s gospel reading for the feast of St. Matthias is the same as this past Sunday (John 15: 9-11).  It is rich and beautiful and, I think, worth hearing again. Jesus is speaking to his disciples about his love for them, the invitation to “remain” in that love, and the joy that comes as a result.  As followers of Jesus, we are called to remain in his love as well. And to keep his commandment, which is stated twice in this reading, and is simply this:  “love one another.”  How are we to love one another?  Jesus says, “…as I love you.”  Simple, yet challenging.  For we are reminded that “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”.  And isn’t that exactly how Jesus demonstrated his love for us?   We are commanded to love one another in the same way. 

This gospel passage also tells us that if we do this, if we love one another as Jesus has loved us, we will remain in his love and his joy will be in us and our joy will be “complete!”  They go hand in hand.  We need to remain in Jesus so that we can love each other, and we are remaining in Jesus when we love one another.  And this is how we will have Jesus’ joy and have it completely.

I think we all know that we’re not talking about superficial or fleeting happiness, or a denial or even absence of suffering, but a deep and complete joy.  It doesn’t mean we won’t suffer and it won’t always be easy. Even in the next chapter of John’s gospel Jesus acknowledges that the disciples will suffer and grieve, as even he was preparing to suffer and die, “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.”(16:20) Our grief will become joy!

I think most of us can recall plenty of times of suffering in our lives, some physical, some psychological or spiritual, sometimes the painful grief of losing a loved one. I hope all of us have experienced some of the joy, too, that comes from loving and being open to love, even if it’s just a glimpse of joy with the hope of more to come.

Today, the church celebrates the feast of St. Matthias, an apostle of Jesus’ who was chosen later to replace Judas (which we read about in the first reading from the Acts, chapter 1).  We are reminded, as Jesus also says to his disciples in the gospel reading, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”  Haven’t we also been chosen to love and remain in Jesus’ love?  I have been chosen. How will I respond? 

Eileen Miller