Saturday, 9 December A.D. 2006
Here in this Gospel, we hear Christ tell us he wants his joy to be in us so that our joy might be complete.
He who is God wants our complete joy to be filled with his joy.
However, here he also says the road to complete joy is the obedient practice of a kind of love that could kill us, a kind of love that might not feel good or joyful, a kind of love that might bring some fear or sadness.
I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
On their wedding day, a man and woman might tell each other, “I would gladly die for you.”
Then, some weeks, months or years later, the message might change to, “Put your socks in the hamper, because I’m not your slave” … or, “Sweetheart, I’m not made of money.”
The zeal and nobility of the wedding day can give way to the banality of ordinary daily living.
However, things can also go in the opposite direction.
Gerald and Erin, you are both converts to the Catholic faith; and, Gerald— Gerald Augustinus— you bear the name of a great and famous convert of the ancient Church, St. Augustine.
When we feel our own limitations in obeying the commandments of Christ, the life of St. Augustine can inspire us with courage.
St. Augustine took a long time just to turn in God’s direction.
Not only that!
Even after he had turned to God, he dragged his feet, and asked God not to work too quickly on him.
Augustine’s road to conversion and holiness was long, slow and hesitating.
Later in his life, he wrote a letter to God, and expressed regret for having taken so long.
That letter to God has some of the most famous words of St. Augustine.
Late have I loved you,
O Beauty ever ancient,
late have I loved you!
In his Gospel today, our Lord speaks of the self-sacrificing love that he commands us to have for him and for each other.
He is explaining and describing the shape that our lives will have if we do love him and are faithful to him.
He says we are to remain in him by keeping his commandments.
He has also set a standard for keeping his commandments.
He is the standard.
In his teaching and his personal example, he reveals that the greatest measure of love and fidelity is death.
His sacrifice of himself on the cross is “for us men and for our salvation.”
His self-sacrifice on the cross is also for the Father and the Father’s glory.
Christ’s death on the cross is his flesh and blood fulfillment of his own eternal, loving and obedient self-surrender to the Father.
On his cross, Jesus gives all to the Father.
In the resurrection, the Father gives all to Jesus.
So Christ Jesus tells us in his Gospel today, “I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.”
The death of the cross and the life of the resurrection— both happened in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Here, in the Eucharistic Body and Blood of Christ, God gives us his own death and resurrection.
Greater love has no one— and no other LIFE has Christ— than this: that he gives his life for those he loves.
As the Father loves me,
so I also love you.
I have told you this
so that my joy—
MY JOY IN THE FATHER’S LOVE—
that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
Gerald and Erin, whether or not each day in your marriage ends up looking like your joy-filled wedding day, or— on the other hand— like laundry day, or bill-paying day, the banal surrenders of daily living can be signs and instruments of the cross and the resurrection.
They are part of the Sacrament of Holy Matrimony.
In a similar way, here in the Eucharist, a sliver of food and a sip of drink give us the cross and the resurrection in the Body and Blood of Christ.
Through the Eucharist, feed your marriage on Christ, not on your own limited human resources.
Through the Eucharist, lead your marriage to Christ, rather than to yourselves.
In that way, the foundation and the goal of your marriage can be infinitely stronger and greater than yourselves alone.
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Mr. Naus writes a well-known Catholic blog. Click HERE for it.