Year B Sixth Sunday of Easter
John 15: 9 – 17
Lord, your Word is a tree of life that offers blessed fruit in abundance.
Like the rock gushing water in the desert it is for each of us a refreshing fountain.
“All ate the same spiritual food and drank the same spiritual drink.”
Today’s text is clearly divided into two parts. We will reflect and pray on each part separately.
9Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.
Remain in my love. 10If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
11I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete.
It is easy to see how the opening and closing statements are linked. Try reading them as a unit. Jesus loves us in the same way as the Father loves him. We could never have worked this out for ourselves. No wonder Jesus had to spell it out for us.
Sadly, there are many people whose relationship with God is based on fear. Jesus tells us plainly that we should experience great joy from how we relate to God. Our religion should be a joyful experience. In fact, our God is a God who brings joy.
In the centre part there is mention of commandments. You may well say, “What commandments?” A short look through the chapters that come before and follow this text will give us the answer.
13: 34 I give you a new commandment: As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
Now that is really straight forward. Oh yes, Jesus sets a really high standard, but the rewards will be so great. It is so easy to say, “I love my neighbour”. It is quite a different story to really put it into practice.
Way back in the time of Isaiah 600 BC God complained, “This people honours me with their lips alone, though their hearts are far from me.” Is 29: 13
Things had not changed much in Jesus time.
“This people honours me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. In vain do they worship me, teaching as doctrines human rules.” Mk 7: 6
James has really sound advice for us.
“Religion that is pure and undefiled before God our Father is this: to care for orphans and widows in their difficulties and to keep oneself unstained by the world.” Jm 1: 27 This is how we will “remain in my love”.
O praise the Most High, Jerusalem!
Praise your God!
For God strengthens the bars of your gates, blessing your children within you,
establishing peace in your boarders, feeding you with the finest wheat.
You send out your word to all the earth.
You make your word known to your people.
You have not dealt thus with any other nation; you have taught us your decrees.
* * * * * *
12This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.
13A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
14You are my friends, if you do what I command you. 15I shall not call you servants anymore, because a servant does not know his master’s business: I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father. 16You did not chose me, no, I chose you; I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.
17What I command you is; to love one another.
In this second part of the gospel Jesus leaves us in no doubt as to what his commandment is. Love one another. And James has told us plainly what this means in practice.
In verse 13 we find the expression “lay down his life”. My preference is to read it as, “Dedicate his life to his friends”. Certainly this is what Jesus did during his life time. We too are called to the service of others in a variety of ways. The Christian way is service.
Jesus chooses us, he offers us works of service, he asks us to go out and to bear fruit. He calls us to live in such a way that the world will be a better place for our having been in it. In this way our fruit will last and Jesus words will come true:
“I have overcome the world.” Jn 16: 33b
Sing and joyful song to the Lord.
Let us give thanks to God for having made us worthy
to share the inheritance of the saints in light.
God has delivered us from the power of darkness
and transferred us into the kingdom of God’s beloved son, Jesus.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Col 1: 12 – 20