The Easter Season continues to move along as the Church celebrates the Resurrection of her Lord.
This Sunday in the Gospel Reading, we continue to hear from the powerful and heartfelt Farewell Discourse of the Lord Jesus. The discourse is the last series of preparatory teachings given by the Lord to his disciples as he prepares for his Paschal Mystery.
Today, we are told: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”
In this promise, the Lord Jesus – who conquers evil and dispels darkness – teaches us that those who love him, and keep his commands, will not be abandoned. When he accomplishes his saving work and departs, those who obey him will remain in his love and dwell with the Father. The conditional aspect of this promise cannot be overlooked, or taken for granted.
The Lord indicated that the Divine Family, and the blessings that come with divine fellowship, will be given to those who love him and obey him. In short, the graces will be given to those who truly want them.
The world gives us a standing offer of an easy life. But it is a life consumed with egotism, power, vanity, wealth, and pleasure. It calls for no obedience other than to one’s own whims and fantasies. It’s a glamorous offer, the spiritual equivalent of flashing lights, loud music, and egocentric celebrations. Rather than love of God and neighbor, we are offered a life of conceit and self-absorption.
As we step back and listen up, however, we realize that we are the children of God and we are offered an abundant life in Jesus Christ. We see clearly that our Father dwells in heaven and that we are called to be with him.
As Pope Francis taught: “We continue to say ‘Our Father,’ but with the heart we are invited to say ‘Papa,’ to have a relationship with God like that of a child with his father, who says ‘Papa, Babbo’.”
This offer of a relationship changes everything. Such an invitation compels us to give new direction to our lives. Our new identity as the children of God and our new destiny for heaven pose a challenge to our hearts. We have to change. We need to reorient ourselves.
As our new identity and destiny cry out for fulfillment, we can find a spiritual groaning and drive within our souls: A desire to truly allow God to be the Father of our lives, to be open and teachable sons and daughters. We hope in the reality of heaven. Such a pining allows grace to work in us and transform us. We feel pushed beyond ourselves. We conduct ourselves, therefore, in ways that follow the commands of God and allow us to remain in his love.
The acceptance of God as our Father, and Heaven as our Home, fills us with great hope and joy. They show us the frailty of evil and darkness and give us a filial boldness, which is the fortitude of children who know they are loved and protected, to live holy lives and to fight for goodness whatever the cost.
When our Father is in our heart, and Heaven is in our sight, all things are possible. We feel confident in our following of the Lord Jesus and trust in him. We are willing to take risks, to be daring, and to labor for the kingdom of our Father. In imitation of the Lord Jesus, we are willing to give a constant “yes” to all that he asks of us and to surrender all that we are to his glory.
As the Lord prepared his early disciples for the Paschal Mystery, so he prepares us. The Paschal Mystery occurred over two thousand years ago in history, but it is re-presented and re-lived in the those who love God and seek to remain in his love.
The Lord Jesus calls us follow him and remain in his love. Such a dwelling requires a trust and an obedience. It leads us to see Jesus as Lord and the living God as Father. What will we do? The choice is ours.