Jesus said to his disciples:
“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,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that
my joy might be in you and
your joy might be complete.”
To me, joy is the sure sign that a person has a close relationship with Jesus Christ. Joy is different from being happy. Joy is different from a decision to seem perky. Joy is something that comes from deep within a person and no one can take it away.
It makes sense then today as we hear this Gospel. Just as yesterday we heard about the vine and the branches and how we are to stay connected to the vine……..today Jesus calls us to remain in His love by keeping His commandments. When we keep the commandments, especially by loving God and neighbor, the Lord gives us a deep sense of peace and joy that is abiding. Our conscience does not bother us at night. We do not lay awake at night thinking, “I should have treated that person better today….” Or “I wasn’t quite honest with him/her today….”
Jesus wants our joy to be complete. Do you have joy in your life? Do you wake up with an excitement about what God might have in store for you? Do you pray for your encounters of the day? Can you say at each night, “Lord, I’ve given you everything today and followed your commandments?” If so, you are probably experiencing some of this joy that Jesus is talking about.
Having joy does not mean that everything is perfect in life. In fact, Jesus promised us heavy crosses and difficult trials when we follow Him. He asks us, like He asked James and John, “Can you drink from the cup that I am about to drink?” In other words, can you suffer for my sake and the sake of the Father? When we do offer everything – our ups and downs, the joys and sorrows – when we place all of this at the foot of the cross and make Jesus the center of everything – He will give us joy – something that nothing or no person can take from us. They say “there is no crown without the cross.
Jesus doesn’t want to give us a little joy; He wants to flood us with a deep sense of His presence and love today.