Gospel Reflection for Sunday the 9th of May 2021
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6th Sunday of Easter
A cactus cannot grow in the arctic. In order for a cactus to survive and flourish, it needs certain conditions. There are limits to things according to their natures. This means there are necessary conditions in life that must exist for life to be. There is no getting around it. The same is true for the human being. On the biological level we need food and water and shelter. It is also true that we have spiritual needs. We need God. Without God we cannot truly flourish. Our hearts are made for the love of God and our minds are made to feed on His truth.
As Christians we know and profess that Jesus Christ is the only “way, the truth and the life” ( John 14:6). In this Sunday’s Gospel we see that Jesus wants us to flourish by participating in His very life. You see as Christians we do not just imitate Jesus we supernaturally partake in His very life. Last Sunday’s reflection I mentioned that Jesus lives in us and we in Him. Our goal on earth is to be faithful to Jesus’ words “remain in my love.” Jesus Christ is the perfect soil for the tree of our lives to grow strong. Jesus Christ is the perfect ‘condition’ which our souls need for true life and human flourishment. Pope John Paul II famously said “It is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness; He is waiting for you when nothing else you find satisfies you; He is the beauty to which you are so attracted; it is He who provoked you with that thirst for fullness that will not let you settle for compromise; it is He who urges you to shed the masks of a false life; it is He who reads in your heart your most genuine choices, the choices that others try to stifle. It is Jesus who stirs in you the desire to do something great with your lives, the will to follow an ideal, the refusal to allow yourselves to be ground down by mediocrity, the courage to commit yourselves humbly and patiently to improving yourselves and society, making the world more human and more fraternal.”
The Pope is saying that Jesus Christ is the ideal of our souls. It is only in Him that we find the true life we are looking for. We must note, however, that in the Gospel Jesus lays down a condition for remaining in Him. It is a condition that ensures we keep our life in Christ. Jesus said, “if you keep my commandments you will remain in my love.” Sometimes people want Jesus but do not want to follow His commandments. They do not want Jesus’ teaching through the Church. Here Jesus is being absolutely clear. We cannot have Jesus without His commandments. We cannot have Jesus without His Church. Friendship with Him depends on believing and living His Word. Conforming our life to the way of Christ is the surest way to discover a vibrant and meaningful life.
Jesus does not give us commandments because He is some dictator wanting to enslave us by His power and rules. He does not give us commandments to make us a live a boring sad life. Instead, Jesus gives the reason for why we must follow what He says: “I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete”. Jesus wants us to be full of joy. Being our creator He knows what we must do in order to find this joyful life. He knows us from the inside out. His commandments then are pathways to true inner freedom and joy. Jesus’s way is our joy. As Pope St. John Paul II says “ it is Jesus that you seek when you dream of happiness”.
-Fr Jesse Maingot OP