Deacon Steven Johnson’s Reflection 5-11-23

5th week of Easter, Thursday, 5-11-23, Year A
Readings: First Reading Acts 15:7-21; Ps 96:1-3,10; Gospel Jn 15:9-11
Theme: Christ’s Love Completes Our Joy

I have always been a lover of dogs. I have had dogs as pets almost my entire life. The one thing that attracts me to them is their never-ending love for us. It does not matter what we do to them, how bad or how good we treat them, they will always love us and want to be with us. They never hold a grudge and never remember anything bad we might have done. It is as if every day is a new day for them with us. I have seen the most mistreated and abused dogs and yet when we approach them, they only think of pleasing us, wagging their tails, and prancing, just waiting for us to get close enough so they can jump up and give us a kiss and sniff us in friendship.

This kind of unconditional love is what Christ is talking about. The difference between a dog’s love and God’s love is that God understands what we have done and still loves us the same. We only have to accept His love and in turn, emulate that love to others we meet to find the joy we all seek. What is the answer to the age-old question of life? It is love. Why? Because God who created us is love. So, if we accept Jesus’ love for us and we remain in His love (by living as He lived and loving as He loved) we please God the Father, and our joy is complete. This defines what it means to be content.

If you are ever confused or think it is too hard to live as Jesus did, or you are not even sure how to go about it in your daily lives, just remember that it all boils down to love. What is God? He is love! Everything thing Jesus commanded us to do stems from the root of love. If you look at every situation in your life, every interaction, debate, argument, difficulty, consternation, or conflict, from the perspective of the love of Christ you will have your answer. The only response you should have is one of love through Christ.

Love of Jesus is love of God. If we remain in love with Jesus and all He taught, we will remain in love with God the Father Himself. We do this by paying attention to the workings of the Holy Spirit in our lives, who gives us guidance on how to respond to every situation. Following the love of the Holy Spirit, the advocate Jesus promised us, will make our joy complete.

There is no guarantee that emulating God’s love will not make our lives difficult. On the contrary, in today’s world, God’s love can be difficult to live out. The hard part is separating what love the world wants us to remain in vs. what love Jesus wants us to remain in. Love in this world can be something completely different than the agape love Jesus asks of us.

Many times, societal trends can veil themselves as love of neighbor, but once the veil is lifted it reveals something completely different, a love that reflects the world and not that of Christ.

Listen to Jesus. Live as He did and love as He did, which can be tough love at times. If we can follow in Jesus’ footsteps, we will have a joy in this life that is complete and a guarantee of a life of true love and contentment in eternal life with God the Father in heaven.

May the love of God always be with you, in you, and around you, protecting, guiding, and reassuring you in this life.

Published by St. James, Belvidere

Saint James Catholic Church, Belvidere, IL