Daily Reflection
May 18th, 2006

Tom Bannantine, S.J.

School of Nursing
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Acts 15:7-21
Psalm 96:1-2a, 2b-3, 10
John 15:9-11

St. John is often called the apostle of love. He speaks of love throughout his gospel, and he demonstrates his own great love to both Jesus and his blessed mother. Today John gives us a short and simple yet profound statement of love that comes from Jesus to John and the other apostles. The words of Jesus are addressed not only to the apostles and disciples, but through the gospel of John they are addressed to all of us who know and follow Jesus. He has kept the commandments of God the Father and he remains in his love. Jesus tells us that if we keep the commandments we will remain in his love. To remain in the love of Jesus is something that we should very much desire.

Love is often a very profound human emotion. We have all watched movies and TV programs that depict the depths to which human love can move people. Famous authors have written great love stories that continually stir the hearts of their readers. The love exhibited in such stories makes a deep impression on us. A good love story can move us to tears.

And so when I read this gospel passage, I ask myself if my heart is moved by the love of Jesus for me. Am I moved to love Jesus in return? A very honest answer is that I am working on that. I am trying to return the love of Jesus for me. But my efforts are a work in progress. I am on the way, but I have a long way to go. I realize that the story of Jesus really is the greatest story ever told. I know that if I love Jesus as he wants me to, my heart will be moved by my love for him. My love will then grow deeper and become more intense. And so I keep working at developing my love for Jesus. I think that most of us who follow Jesus are like that. We are trying to develop a deeper love for Jesus just as he has asked us to.

Jesus ends this teaching by assuring us that if we follow the commandments and remain in his love, our joy will be complete. These words of Jesus always remind me of what he said to the good thief: "This day you will be with me in paradise." Can there be any earthly joy more complete than hearing those words of Jesus? This is the joy that all of us long to experience. The expectation of joy like this is the main reason that we should pay close attention to this gospel reading. It is why we should continue our efforts to keep the commandments and remain in the love of Jesus.

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