As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.
Now remain in my love. If you obey my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and that your joy may be complete.
My commandment is this,
love each other
as I have loved you.
John 15: 9-12
Jesus told his followers that he wanted them to experience his joy. And that the experience of joy comes from living in the flow of God’s love. Jesus began this teaching saying something like this: “I love you. In the same tender, unshakeable way that God the Father loves me, I love you. This reality is the foundation for all of life. This reality is the source of joy. You are loved. Rest in this love. Stay close to me and to my love for you.”
Joy comes as we open ourselves to God’s love for us and as we rest in that reality.
For some of us, the process of opening to God’s love is a long, long journey. For most of us, it is a process full of challenges. We may believe in a God of love, but privately fear that God is distant, disapproving or harsh. Or we may fear that somehow we are unlovable, unreachable or not included.
God actively seeks to heal our fears so that we can be free to rest in God’s unfailing love. Our part is to ask, and to keep asking, for eyes to see and a heart to receive the gift of God’s love for us. Our part is to ask for the grace to “remain in this love,” to stay close to this love, to let our roots sink deeply into the soil of this love.
Jesus continued his teaching about joy by calling us to love others. It is helpful to notice the order of this teaching. First, we are told that we are loved. Then we are told to remain in the reality of that love. And then we are called to love each other.
As we begin to take in God’s love and to rest in God’s love, we begin to change. We are better able to let God’s love fill us and guide us. As a result, we begin to see others as God sees them, through eyes of love. In this way, God’s love begins to flow through us to others. We change how we view others and how we act toward others.
This short teaching captures much of the essence of life. We are deeply, abundantly loved by God. As we rest in that love we are filled with the joy of Christ and we are freed to love as we have been loved.
We all seek happiness, meaning and security in life. Jesus shows us the key to all of this and to the gift of abundant joy. “Know that I love you. Remain in my love for you. Sink your roots deeply into my love for you. Let my love change you. Let my love flow through you to others. In this way you will be able to love others as I love you. And my joy will live in you, making your joy complete.” Staying open to joy, by remaining in love, is prayer.
You love me.
Give me the grace to rest in that love,
Help me to sink my roots deeply into the soil of your love.
Give me the grace to live a life of surrender to your love,
Fill me with love so that love flows through me to others.
Help me to know the joy
of remaining in your love
and of being a channel for your love.
Let your joy fill me.
Reflect on times of joy when you have experienced both the grace of knowing God’s love for you and of allowing that love to guide how you treat others. Ask God to increase your ability to “remain in God’s love.” Ask God to free you to be open to the joy that comes as you rest in God’s love and as you allow that love to flow through you to others.