•Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 • 1 John 4:7-10 • John 15:9-17•
Scripture Readings: Sixth Sunday of Easter
Christ is Risen! (Truly he is risen!) Last year, a PBS documentary titled “Happy” featured interviews with people around the world. When asked what they wanted in life, people everywhere said “they just wanted to be happy.” Not more money or possessions. Not pleasure. Not power. They just wanted to be happy. What would you do if you received a formula guaranteeing “happiness?”
Some years ago I had the pleasure of seeing a long-running stage play in Chicago. ‘WICKED” tells of the Wizard of Oz from the viewpoint of the so-called “wicked witch.” Some of the lyrics and songs are powerful. If I remember correctly, the “good witch” and the “wicked witch” sing a duet proclaiming their happiness. The refrain — “I couldn’t be happier” provides this formula for happiness. “Happy is what happens when your dreams come true.”
I do not dispute that. But don’t forget the old wisdom saying: “be careful what you wish for; you may get it.” I think we have received a formula that is far more likely to guarantee “happiness” than “having your dreams come true.” That formula is in our gospel today
Friends of God, listen carefully to John’s Jesus. This text flows seamlessly from the simile about “the vine and the branches.” John’s Jesus tells us to “remain in my love!” … “so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”
We have received a formula guaranteeing joy and happiness. “Love one another as I love you” ….. “so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”
We have a model of this in our very human brother — Francis of Argentina and now of Rome. Watch him. Listen to him. Learn from him. He is open to all. With body language and speech he welcomes people of all races, cultures and religions in a manner that tells them “I love you.” His warm and infectious smile tells us he is full of joy and happiness. His joy and happiness are not about being the Bishop of Rome. His joy and happiness are born of love.
“Love one another as I love you,” the Risen One recognizes something totally possible for all of us. Examine your own life and the many relationships that create your life. You love the members of your birth family. You love the members of your marriage family. You love so many others who are in the circle of your intimate friends and even folks you barely know. We all are capable of unconditional love. Such love is the source of our joy and happiness!
Friends of God, how is your love life? If you are happy, it is because your love life is good! John’s Jesus asks us to “remain in my love.” As we live and grow in the Risen One, we become more and more capable of loving others. Ask any athlete or musician or dancer. Practice makes perfect. Church is not about doctrine, law or ritual, but about becoming a community, a circle of love. “The Father loves the Son.” “The Son loves us.” We continue the chain by loving others. When our love life is good we find our personal truth and joy and happiness. This is my experience.
We all encounter uncertainties in our lives. Think of your own experience of conflicts or difficulties. Uncertainties pop-up all over the place: within our homes, neighborhoods and places of work; even in the midst of a vacation or a family wedding or a romantic evening out to dinner. The important thing is this. Never stop loving! Allow the love of God to flow through you into others. If your love life is good, you are among the friends of God. You will know that is your truth because of the joy and happiness deep within you.
Christ is Risen! (Truly he is risen!) The historical Jesus of the gospels is our model of what it is to be human. Out of his own lived experience he set before us a formula guaranteeing joy and happiness. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy complete. Love one another as I love you.” How is your love life?