“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you and your joy might be complete.”
Taken out of context, John’s chapter 15 is simply one of the loveliest passages in the Bible. But put into perspective it becomes both stunningly gorgeous and gut-wrenchingly painful at the same time. Jesus sits at table with his disciples. They must sense the tensions that surround the Master, but do they realize what events will unfold on that evening and the following day? Jesus stands on the brink of his passion and death, and he speaks of joy being complete. Eighteen hours later, these words will seem ironic at best.
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.…” In the short run this love doesn’t look so inviting. The Father has sent the Son on what looks like a wild goose chase after God’s wayward people. Jesus’ whole ministry is about to come crashing down, ending brutally on the cross. The Father’s love has set the Son an impossible task—or so it seems—yet he sits here talking about his joy being complete?
But Christ is risen. The fact of the resurrection changes everything. The complete self-emptying of the Son is met by the complete outpouring of the Father and the Spirit. In the mystery of the Trinity, death and chaos cannot bind Jesus because his life is held, sustained, and honored by the Father and Spirit. This is life—true life—that does not decay or come to an end.
This incredible gift of God’s life is shared with us in baptism. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.” In the end death and chaos have no permanent hold on us, either. We are in Christ. Given this knowledge, the confidence and joy that pulsate in the words of Jesus in this Gospel become our joy. This joy is complete.
Lord, your love persistently waits for a response. You want us to live in your love; to remain with you. Day after day you repeat this invitation. Day after day you nourish us with your words and with the Eucharist. Let me enter into your joie de vivre, to deal with people and approach situations with your perspective. Live in me, so that my presence brings grace and consolation. Live in me, so that I may live in you.
“… so that my joy might be in you …”
Daughters of Saint Paul. (2011). Easter Grace: Daily Gospel Reflections. (M. G. Dateno & M. L. Trouvé, Eds.) (pp. 82–83). Boston, MA: Pauline Books & Media.