Tuesday - Feast of the Apostle Matthias (May 14): Receive the fullness of God's love and joy

Meditation: How can love lead to immeasurable joy? Jesus tells his disciples that he is united with his Father in heaven in a perfect bond of mutual love, honor, and joy in one another. Their love is inseparable and unbreakable. That is why the Son delights in obeying the eternal Father who loves him with infinite love. The Father and Son invite all to join in their eternal bond of love and friendship. How can we enter into that unbreakable bond of  love and friendship? Jesus, the Word of God who became flesh for us, shows us the way - keep my word, keep my commandments. If you abide in my word you will know my love and that love will fill you with immense joy - a joy which is unsurpassing, exalted, and unfading (2 Peter 1:3,8).

A new command of love
Jesus' commands are not hard or burdensome for those who know his love and mercy. The Lord fills us with his Spirit and transforms our hearts to be like his heart. Paul  the Apostle reminds us that "God's love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us" (Romans 5:5). Jesus gave his disciples a new commandment - a new way of love and fruitful service which is empowered by his Holy Spirit. We are called to love and serve others just as Jesus has loved us with heartfelt compassion, kindness, and mercy. Jesus proved his love for us by laying down his life for us, even to death on the cross. Our love for God is a response to his exceeding love for us through the gift of his Son, the Lord Jesus Christ.

How do we prove our love for God and grow in the knowledge and depth of his unfathomable love? The same way Jesus did - by embracing the way of the cross each and every day. What is the cross in my life? When my will crosses with God's will, then his will must be done. If we accept God's way of love, truth, and wisdom, then we will discover the joy and freedom of loving, serving, and laying down our lives for others, just as Jesus freely laid down his life for each and every one of us. Do you know the joy of being united with the Lord Jesus in a bond of unbreakable love and peace?

A Friend of God
One of the special marks of favor shown in the Scriptures is to be called the friend of God. God called Abraham his friend (Isaiah 41:8), and God spoke with Moses as a "man speaks with his friend" (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, calls the disciples his friends rather than his servants (John 15:15). What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship certainly entails a relationship of love which goes beyond mere duty or loyalty. Scripture tells us that "a friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity" (Proverbs 17:17).

The distinctive feature of Jesus' relationship with his disciples was his personal and unconditional love and care for them. He loved his own to the very end (John 13:1). He loved his disciples selflessly and generously because his love was wholly directed to their good. His love was costly and sacrificial - he gave not only the best he had, but all that he had. He gave his very own life in order to bring the abundant everlasting life of the eternal Father to those who believed in him.

The fire of Christ's love purifies and transforms
The love of Jesus Christ compels us to give our best not only to God but to our neighbor who is created in the image and likeness of God. God's love purifies and transforms us into the likeness of Christ. The Lord Jesus promises that those who abide in his love will bear much fruit for the kingdom of God - fruit that will last for eternity as well (John 15:16). If you seek to unite your heart with the heart of Jesus, your life will bear abundant fruit - the fruit which comes from the Holy Spirit who dwells within us - the fruit of love, joy, peace, goodness, and friendship which lasts forever (Galatians 5:22-23).

"Lord Jesus, fill me with your Holy Spirit and make me fruitful in your love, mercy, kindness, and compassion. May there be nothing in my life which keeps me from your love and joy."

This reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager, whose website is located at: http://dailyscripture.servantsoftheword.org/readings/