One day a little girl was sitting and watching her mother do the dishes at the kitchen sink. She suddenly noticed that her mother had several strands of white hair sticking out in contrast on her brunette head. She looked at her mother and inquisitively asked, “Why are some of your hairs white, Mom?” Her mother replied, “Well, every time that you do something wrong and make me cry or unhappy, one of my hairs turns white.” The little girl thought about this revelation for a while and then said, “Momma, how come ALL of grandma’s hairs are white?”
Dear friends! I wish all the mothers A Happy Mother’s day. We will have a special blessing for all the mothers at the end of the Mass. On this Mother’s day weekend the church gives us a beautiful Gospel passage for us to be joyful and happy.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” We all want to be happy and joyful. That’s God’s intention as well. But the Joy Jesus is talking about is not the type of joy we get from this world which are just temporary and momentary. Jesus is talking about the lasting joy, beyond words to describe. How can we experience that type of joy? To experience this joy we need to do two things – obey, and remain. Those are the two commands Jesus gave in vs 10 – “obey my commands” and “remain in my love.” Why did Jesus give those commands? So that we might have complete joy. This is type of commands mothers give their children. Why? Because as parents we want to give maximum protection and love for our children. We are all children of God and God gives us the same commands we parents give to our children.
The first command is obedience. Obedience results in joy. We sometimes believe the opposite – that God has given us this list of “things not to do” to limit our freedom and make us miserable – but the opposite is true. Parents give list of ‘things not to do’ not because they want to make their children miserable but because they love them so much. Obedience to God is the path to joy, not only because obeying the things we are not supposed to do saves us pain and hurt, but also because in the doing of all the things we are supposed to do we find significance and purpose and life.
The second command is “remain in my love.” Joy is the experience of knowing that you are unconditionally loved. You and I have known that unconditional love of Jesus at moments in the past; Jesus command to us is to remain in that love. To never get sidetracked, to never get persuaded otherwise, to never lose sight of the eternal truth of Easter: “For God so loved the world that He gave His one and only Son…” Jesus is welcoming us to remain under His wing, to remain wrapped in His arms, to remain always in the midst of the fact that we are loved perfectly, unconditionally, truly, not by virtue of anything that we have done or failed to do, but solely by the grace of God.
If we ‘obey’ and ‘remain in His love’ we will know joy. Joy that is not about feeling, circumstance, or economics. Rather, joy that is about being a part of something incredible – the Kingdom of God. About being part of something eternal – the Kingdom of God. About being part of a people, who meet here week after week together in worship and in seeking God. About being part of a mission to share the incredible good news of salvation with our family members, friends and all the people we meet daily.
Jesus says, “These things have I spoken to you that My Joy may remain in you, and that Your JOY may be full!” It is time for us to really ask: What is it that we really want in life? What will bring us JOY? Jobs? Better Jobs? Houses? Cars? Boats? Spouses? Children? Fixed incomes? Health? Security? Entitlements? Fame? Adventure? Achievements? Wardrobes? Jewelry? Travel?
All = remain outside the heart of what we REALLY want! What we all want is LOVE and the JOY it brings with it! It is more than simply human JOY we are seeking; we seek the JOY OF KNOWING JESUS! We find real and lasting joy only by following the commandment Jesus gives us today.
“My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this that he lay down his life for his friends.” We will never find joy in pursuing ourselves, but only in loving God and loving one another. That much is an act of our will, a choice we make: to live for others first, and for ourselves second. If you aren’t sure what that looks like in real life, watch a mother of a child from birth through to at least elementary age, many times through to adulthood, and you will see what I mean. And if you look deep into their eyes and hearts, you will see that they take great joy in doing it.
Today just as we ask our children to obey and remain in love, Jesus is asking every one of us to do the same: “keep my commandments … remain in my love”.