Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B, -May 13th 2012.
Gospel of the Day, – St. John, Chapter 15, verses 9 – 17.
Giving a retreat one day to a Confirmation Class, in Antrim, I put a leading question to them ‘How much does God love us? This much, maybe…’ and I opened my hands until they were about shoulder-width apart. ‘No! – more!’ they chorused. The hands went wider, and again the same answer. At last the hands were outstretched as if on the Cross, and they answered ‘Yes, that much!’ As I stood there with the hands still outstretched, one girl over on my left spoke up: ‘But you can’t even begin to describe how much God loves us!’ We were all of us stunned into a silence, with the wisdom and truth of what she had just said- ‘you can’t even begin to describe how much God loves us!’
If I had just one verse of the Scriptures to take with me to a desert island, it very probably would be John 15:9, (found in today’s Gospel) - ‘As my Father has loved me, so I have loved you!’, but more like this: ‘The way my Father has loved me, that is how much I have loved you!’ ‘As much as my Father loves me and has always loved me, that is just how much I have loved you, and have loved all of you!’,- that is, with a love that has no limits at all. When we ponder and contemplate the first part, and wonder at just how much the Father loves His Son Jesus from all eternity,- as the awesomeness of this fills us, then we hear what Jesus is saying to us in the second half, about his relationship with us,- one of love without limits, like the Father’s. And then he says: ‘Live in my love’,- or ‘Abide in my love’, or ‘make your home in my love’,- or maybe, like a fish in the sea, we swim in the ocean of God’s love that knows no shores nor horizons. (See ‘A Never-Ending Ocean‘, a poem/reflection, in the ‘Soul-Food’ section.)
And then, as we awaken to ‘as I have loved you’, in all its depth and width and height and length, he tells us to ‘love one another’ with the same depth and width and height and length. And to help us to do this, he says (in the same chapter) ‘make your home in me as I make mine in you’. What a relationship, what an intimacy. He invites us to live in each other.
‘I am alive, or rather it is not I who am alive, but it is Christ who is alive in me! I live by faith in the Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me.’ (St. Paul, to the Galatian disciples, in Galatians 2:20)
Seamus Devitt C.Ss.R., May 12, 2012.