Being a friend of Jesus
We were each brought up in a family community or a social home. And so, each one of us was obligated to keep specific rules or house rules that were mandated. We all had to submit to a particular order – we had to stay in that order.
Today, Jesus calls each of us, “Abide in my love. I have told you these things so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.” (Jn 15:10n). In the word abide, we might say that Jesus seems to be saying to us: submit.
Today, it is lovely to see how Jesus calls us to abide in his love. Jesus is already clearly indicating to the disciples his departure – he is going to the Father through death. Jesus has gone to prepare the way for us. He is the Way to the Father, but he is also the Way and the Life. God’s truth, then, is not a doctrine but a person. Each individual will grasp this truth to the extent that they can be captivated and transformed by it.
The reality of the joy that Jesus wants to infuse into our hearts should be confident in his love. This confidence will stir us to the fact that we have here the one who laid down his life on the cross, freed us from sin, and brought us into his light. Jesus wants to show us that joy is a gift that we feel vividly in the moments of being filled with his grace. We must realize that we cannot live without God and his commands. Today, Jesus wants us to give ourselves entirely to Him by keeping His commandments.
In her words, Mother Teresa urges us, “Joy must be a fundamental feature of our lives. We may have nothing to give, but we will always be able to give the joy that flows from a heart that loves God. Joy is always contagious. Whenever you go to the sick, be full of joy.”
So too, if we do the commands of Jesus, we experience joy and peace and can say, as St. Augustine said, “I believe in whom I have believed.” Jesus wants to give each one of us his love, but it is clear that he wants us to fulfill his request – to keep what he has commanded us. We, too, want to get something, but without a condition, without having to do something. Let’s look at Jesus: he had to keep what God commanded him to keep. He, too, was `submitted’ to God. Only he who abides in God will be filled with joy.
Every day we should ask ourselves: “`Have I fulfilled all that God wanted of me? Have I kept His commandments?” We need to turn to the Lord every day for help, to remember His commands. Jesus Christ came down from heaven to us humans and allowed Himself to be imprisoned and condemned to death so that we might be freed from our sins and guilt. Jesus wants a radical decision from us. Many times the apostles also faced the question of judgment. They were the ones who made the first serious decisions for the future of the Church. After all, no one has greater love than the one who sent me. Yes, only God is the greatest friend of us all. We need to trust Him and turn to Him in our weaknesses, and only then will the knowledge of His faithfulness grow in our hearts, and this knowledge will change us.
A particular mother who had a large family had to take her picture. She looked very solemn. But the photographer said to her: “You better smile.” The mother tried to do so. However, the photographer kept saying, “Don’t look stern and sad, as if your house is on fire.” And as she struggled to look more pleasant, the photographer added, “Don’t think of your domestic worries but think of the honor and well-being of being the mother of a family. Think of the reward God will give you one day.”
Click! And done. “Thank you!” She exclaimed: “But I’m ten years younger here when she saw the photo!” “Not at all, but you have a joyful look, which you should always have because you have every reason to be.” These words stuck in the brave lady’s mind. They were repeated to her every morning and evening when she worked and rested. Her husband said to her a few days later, “You seem younger every day. Are you enjoying something, or have you found some `wish’?” The man was right – a mother’s cheerfulness is the source of true family well-being.
We can add that following Christ and abide by his love is to be the happiest person. Only the person who experiences Christ’s love daily can bear witness to it in his life.
Lord Jesus, fill our interior with your peace and grant us to keep your commands forever. Fill our hearts with your love so that we may give your joy to all those around us. Amen.
Those who have committed themselves to following Jesus must often find that love is pursued by hate. This is the sad consequence of original sin. People who hate God also hate those who try to live for God by love. It is not rare for love and goodness to be repaid with hatred.
Today’s Gospel speaks to this theme as well. The Lord Jesus wants to warn His beloved of something great. The apostles and all his brothers and sisters to the end of the world who fulfill his command of love in their lives. Jesus said to his disciples: “If the world hates you, know that it hated me before it hated you” (Jn 15:18). And he will immediately explain why this hatred: ‘If you were of the world, the world would love what its own is, but because you are not of the world because I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you (Jn 15:19).
These words belong to the second part of the Lord Jesus’ farewell discourse at the Last Supper. And specifically, a discordant tone has crept into that message of love, by which he wants to prepare his apostles for the fact that although they will try to sow love around them, they will reap the hatred of the world in return for this effort because not all of them have Jesus as the leader in their lives. Those who don’t have him hate Jesus, and because his disciples belong to Christ, a wave of hatred similar to that of Christ himself will overtake them. Except that Jesus has chosen them out of the world, that is, out of the power of evil, they no longer belong to the world, and for this, the world knows how to take revenge, for the world loves only what is its, what does not transgress its boundaries, its principles, and its way of life.
Therefore, the world’s revenge for its friendship with Jesus is most often manifested in the persecution of Jesus’ disciples. Jesus draws their attention to this and, at the same time, wants to comfort them, to encourage them that the world has also repaid him in this way. At these words, the apostles begin to realize their union, their union with Christ, that they will have to suffer from Christ, but that they will also recognize the joy of the successes they will achieve in spreading the gospel of Jesus. Because many people will come to faith and believe in the Lord Jesus, the number of Christians will multiply.
Likewise, we must expect to avoid the hatred of the world because of the teachings of Jesus. Therefore, we must reckon with the world’s disfavor, we will experience humiliation, and we must even assess with persecution, for Christ’s sake. This is the tax that the Christian pays for his obedience and faithfulness to Christ. We must come to terms with this and not look for an escape route.
We realize that when confrontations with evil occur in our lives, this too is necessary for the Christian life. The history of the Church tells us of the countless multitude of those whom the world hated and had to lay down their lives for God.
We remember St. Stanislaus, Bishop of Cracow, whom the king has executed as an inconvenient man. We remember Pope Martin I, who guides the Church in difficult times, the boat of Peter. Although he had to sacrifice his own life, he did not betray. We remember George, who, as a soldier and commander, knows how to consider who is the superior officer and so prefers martyrdom.
But they did not all die a martyr’s death. We have a long line of confessors: Dominic Savio dies young, but he kept the password from the day he was at his first Holy Communion: Rather die than sin. St. Athanasius, the bishop, often had to face jokes, yet he prevailed. He remained faithful to Christ, even though he had to live in a cemetery for several months, etc… They are an example for us not to lose our serenity in difficulties and persevere faithfully in our duties. He who perseveres to the end will overcome.
Let us have no fear when the world hates us, for Christ’s sake. We are to thank the Lord Jesus that He has counted us worthy to bear witness to His teaching – LOVE.
In May, we honor uniquely / through May devotions/ Virgin Mary, even though we do not have an important feast of Mary in the liturgical calendar this month. This month, we have only a non-binding reminder: Memorial Day of Our Lady of Fatima, May 13. Where does Marian’s spirituality come from, and where does it lead us?
The month of May has always been the month of Mary in the Church. In modern terms, the initiator of the Marian month/ with mai devotions/ in modern terms was the Jesuit Dionisi with his work: Messe di Maria, printed in Verone/Italy/in 1725. The Popes like Pius VII, Gregory XVI, and Pius IX endowed May devotions with indulgences. Popes Leo XIII and Pius XII especially recommended the May devotions. St. Pope Paul VI gave the encyclical Mense Maio, in which Paul VI encourages the faithful to these devotions so that they can for the needs of the Church. This year the month of May falls in the Paschal season. At this time, we celebrate the crowning of the redemptive work of Jesus Christ. This redemptive work is inseparably linked to the task of Mary. And therefore, the honor of Mary has its rightful place at this time. Mary is never in the foreground of Jesus, but she is closely connected with him and cooperates with him on his mission. In the Holy Scriptures, we find the mention of her. And when they had entered, they went up into the upper room, where they remained both Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James the son of Alphäus, and Simon the Zealot, and Jude, the brother of James. These all remained with one accord in prayer with some women and Mary, the mother of Jesus and his brothers. Acts. 1,13,14.
Mary did not consider her task here on earth to be finished after Christ’s ascension. Before death, Jesus entrusted all of us to her. She is not only the Mother of God but also the Mother of the Church, the help of Christians. That is why Mary always remains actively present. Mary practically helped the first Church. After Mary’s death, there was always the living practice of prayers and devotions to Mary in the Church. In her presence, we can feel more secure in all the difficulties of our life, like a kind and caring mother. We can learn the art of prayer, either personal or communal.
If today we state that we are experiencing the difficult times. That we do not even fall into the temptation of hopelessness or resignation, all the more we need to form a strong community of living faith and love. In this community, all our prayers and sacrifices are strengthened by the intercession of our Heavenly Mother, who is actively present in the Church even today.
The month of May is also incredibly dedicated to Mary, but this does not mean that we should neglect Mary in the other months. On the contrary. May devotions should encourage and renew us in this devotion throughout the year. Let us make the most of May; let us draw into our hearts new reinforcement for deeper spiritual life, using Mary, whom God has given us as Mother and Mediatrix of all graces.
Ó Mary, Mother of Mercy
take care of us all
so that the cross of Christ may not be in vain for us
so that man may not stray from the path of goodness
and does not lose the consciousness of sin
and that his hope in God may grow
who is rich in mercy
so that he may do good deeds of his own will
and so he does all his life through.
To the praise of his glory.
Let us receive and keep the peace of Christ
The peace of Christ is a gift to which we want to respond in truth and love in our lives.
Have you heard about the hidden camera? Sure. Drivers are surprised when they are convicted of a traffic violation. Cameras are watching us more and more in workplaces, banks, department stores… Their job is to help, serve, prevent dishonesty, and so on. The show “Hidden Camera” wants to cheer us up. Do you know of any other cameras? Can we also call conscience a camera? God wants our happiness. Conscience warns us and warns us against sin. We know that sin kills God in us. Sin destroys the peace in our souls. Do we not sigh together that if we had been more attentive to the voice of our conscience in our lives, we could have avoided much turmoil.
What a great gift is peace! It is said that after the word mother, there is this word: Peace, Pax, Peace, Paix, Fride, Peace, Peace… most understandable. And yet, even to this word, people give different content. It can mean the end of a war; for others, it means the end of a work shift, another speaks of peace when the children go on holiday, and another imagines the word peace in the silence of a monastery or when he is alone.
In the Gospel, the Lord Jesus says to the apostles, “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. But I do not give to you as the world gives” (Jn 14:27).
We can only understand the words of the Lord Jesus about peace if we remember that the Hebrew word “shalom” does not mean peace as a state without noise, murder, tension, being in nature or behind the walls of a monastery, but that it is “the sum of all God’s gifts.” It is a gift of God and not something that comes only from the possibilities of this world. Jesus gives these gifts to those who give themselves wholly and entirely to him as their Lord and God. He points to the keeping of the Gospel value of truth and righteousness, where one must stand on the side of decency and respect. Jesus is not talking about seeking peace at any cost. Peace cannot be spoken of where ignorance triumphs, where gold and money are preferred, where hunger is not seen, where terror closes the mouth, where truth cannot be spoken, where a style of life is imposed, where freedom is a false enterprise. The peace of Christ is founded on a balance within that emphasizes victory over self. The inner peace of man, the peace of the heart, is animated by a faith that draws on the words of Christ. Not only does a man assimilate the teachings of Christ within himself, but his actions and comments must be equally consistent with the teachings of Christ.
Jesus’ words of peace were spoken in the so-called farewell discourse in the Upper Room. Jesus knows that his hour has come. The terms of the prophet Isaiah are being fulfilled, “His reign will be great, and His peace will be without end” (Isa. 9:6). And this prophet’s words fall like a balm on the soul of man, for peace is a gift to souls. Jesus’ words about peace reveal that everything begins in the heart. A loving heart forgives offenses; it does not respond to violence with violence. At the Last Supper, we realize the greatness of Christ’s peace. The one who loves and trusts God is not moved by any life event, injustice, or wrongdoing, to make his way to peace by weapon, retaliation, or hatred. A heart that has a genuine love and trusts God can trust people. The misfortune for humanity is that we do not love God and trust Him. This causes the one who does not love God to have any respect, even for himself. The proof of these wars, murders, and violence. Those who want to obtain true peace cannot do without prayer and sacrifice. Yes, talking, explaining, and clarifying things is necessary, but words alone will not bring peace. Anger does not have to accept apologies or apologies. Restlessness creates a vicious cycle, and help from God is needed to break it. The secret of peace can only be realized by people inflamed with true love, and the prophet Isaiah says: “… there is no peace for the wicked” (Isaiah 48:22). They can do many things, speak many words, and hold many meetings, but this will not be all; this will not serve peace; this will move away from true peace because their conscience will not belong to God. True peace, the peace that Christ gives, begins in the depth of a good heart.
We Christians are often accused of saying that the world has changed little in two thousand years. We may claim that the Messiah has come into the world, but there is still much evil. We know that even in the time of Jesus, it looked no different. How many have believed in Christ? The Romans did not leave Palestine after Jesus’ sermons. Those who stole continued to steal, and those who were unjust continued their activities. Does this statement seem pessimistic? Perhaps at first glance. In today’s Gospel, Jesus speaks of three gifts He wants to give to the apostles. He gives them his word when he says: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him” (Jn 14:23). He gives them His Holy Spirit: “The Comforter, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you all things and bring all I have said to you” (Jn 14:26). Finally, he gives them the promise of peace. We know that the apostles went out into the world with these gifts. Today we are expected to accept these gifts. Let us not hope for something else that Jesus has not promised us. Let us not expect the world to change according to our expectations. Let us notice more what Jesus has given us with these gifts. He has given us his word that can free us from the restlessness in our heart-soul, deepen our love, strengthen us in faithfulness, and bring us on the right path to follow Jesus. Because the word of Jesus is not just a human word, but it is the word of God in human form, which is hidden behind the word love. Every Christian is expected to live in union with Christ and become an instrument of peace. The example of the Christian becomes an illumination on the way for others who long for peace.
Blessed Ozanam, a great and charitable man, recalls how he came to Paris and his faith was in a severe crisis. With a soul wracked with doubt, he entered the church and saw a man praying on his knees in a corner. When he came closer, he saw that it was the renowned physicist Ampère. Later Ozanam says that Ampère’s prayer did more in his life than all the books and sermons.
Jesus not only promised us the gift of peace, but through the sacraments, he gave us what he promised. We received the call to peace in the Sacrament of Baptism. We have renounced sin and confessed our faith. We have received an indelible mark into our souls. We have opened ourselves to the Word of God. We have opened the way to peace, the way to God’s gifts. We must cooperate with the skills, the sacraments. By receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, we have not only outwardly confessed our faith once, but the Holy Spirit wants to guide us by His gifts to keep on confessing our faith and living it. He imprints a second indelible mark on the soul of the baptized. We are aware of the promise of the Lord Jesus, “Behold, I will send upon you what my Father has promised” (Lk 24:49). With the gifts of the Holy Spirit, we build up the peace of Christ within us. The Eucharist reminds us again and again of God’s love for us. Therefore, no one may receive the body and blood of Christ who does not love a brother. Whoever does not love a brother does not share in the promised gift of peace. Sacramental reconciliation not only restores lost peace but causes an increase in God’s blessings in the soul of man. In the anointing of the sick, the peace of Christ gives strength to the sick body. The viaticum prepares for the encounter with God the Judge so that the soul may enter into eternal peace. The sacraments of state, marriage, and the priesthood give room to fulfill their mission in peace.
The French novelist Julius Green converted to Catholicism. In his novel Chaque ĺ Homme a save, he tells us that every man has his powers and shadows. Ingram is torn between the demands of a believing conscience and unbridled sexual desires. While those around him consider him a decent person, Ingram knows that he is steeped in the mire of sins. When he goes to the brothel, he puts away his rosary so that the Crucified One will not be present. He sometimes desires to throw away his faith because it hinders him from enjoying himself to the full. He feels that his actions are dulling the faith. Sometimes he thinks that man is made up of two personalities. His situation is sharpened when he meets a woman, his relative James Knight, and falls in love with her. James knows of their affair but trusts his wife. One day, a conversation between the two men, “I don’t want to tell you about religion,” James says to Ingram, “but I want to read you four verses from the Bible.” Then he reads the names of the apostles and finally gives his name instead of Judas. Ingram is puzzled and asks why he gives his name instead of Judas. James answers him, “Remember; we can put everyone’s name instead of Judas’ name. Jesus loves Judas. Betraying Jesus was a great but forgivable sin. Judas’ mistake was that he didn’t believe it. That’s why he hanged himself. If Judas had gone under the cross, do you think Jesus would have been furious with him? The sight of Jesus would have been a sight of love. If Judas had begged for forgiveness, Jesus would have forgiven him.
Peace is the total of all God’s gifts. Jesus wants to enrich us with his peace. In the silence of our hearts, let us say now that we long for peace. Let us forgive ourselves for our thoughts, words, and deeds in which there has been no peace on our part. Let us ask for peace from God and those around us. Let us be reconciled and forgive our brothers and sisters. Let us forsake anger and all restlessness of heart. Let us pray, ask and give thanks. Let us not leave the temple today until we have received the peace of Christ. It is appropriate that we renounce all sin now. This is what Jesus asks and expects of us.
The hidden camera – our conscience is working. Rightly so, for our benefit. Peace and brotherly love to be among us.
Today, it is common knowledge that the world is flooded with streams of words. The language of propaganda and advertisements is how powerful and wealthy are in terms of where goods are offered, sold, and everyone wants to sell to get the best. And people build their careers on words, talk, rant, blatantly lie, and see only profit, material gain, and wealth here on earth. And therefore, let us not be surprised that in this abundance of words, man also commits treachery on words that have nothing to do with his business, and these words mean something much more valuable, more beautiful than mere enrichment, material, and material gain.
Among these words is the word – LOVE. This word is spoken, sung, and talked about in various forms and variations, but typically to our detriment and falsely, for we should all long for the actual content of this word. Therefore, we must not be silent. We must speak, but without pretense, deceit, or falsification of the content of this word.
Let us ask at the outset: Is not the notion of the word love, even in my case as a Christian, just something soulless? As Christians, we are obliged to realize that to love a person means that we must unite.
The central theme of today’s liturgical readings at Mass exists the word love. It is mainly about love for another person. But in doing so, we cannot speak of love for our neighbor if we do not speak of love for God. The readings remind us that we will only truly love God if we also love our neighbors.
The Lord Jesus says: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12).
Jesus’ appeal to active love for our neighbor has its justification and place. The Lord Jesus spoke these words shortly before His departure from this world. It is an excerpt from His beautiful address to His disciples. When Jesus said this as He bade His disciples farewell, it must have mattered to Him. Jesus wants them to love one another. But how? He answers this question for himself, “…as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12). And as Jesus loved us: “Greater love has no one than this, than he who lays down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13).
From this, we see that our love for our neighbor must be the same for Jesus. Let us try to pause in our reflection and consider the main features of this discourse of Jesus.
We encounter the command to love our neighbor already in the Old Testament. But this command had different content. It was then held that it was sufficient to love one’s neighbor to about the same extent as one’s blood relative or birth relative. This command did not apply to foreigners. The New Testament already expresses a new understanding that we are to love all people of all nationalities, colors, etc.
This command also applies to the love of enemies. We have plenty of evidence for this from the teachings of Jesus. Perhaps you, brothers and sisters, would like to have a discreet conversation with Jesus on this subject. Are we really to love even our enemies? But we realize that when Jesus said it, we are not to doubt it. That is his will, and that is Jesus’ teaching. He knows best what we are to do and what will do us the best. Therefore, let us trust Jesus.
Loving another person already has a basis in natural causes and esoteric teachings. Above all, it stems from respect for the other person. All men are equal. Everyone is human and has the right to be treated as such. Therefore, we are to see in every man a brother. Whether he is black or white, whether he has ordinary eyes or slanting eyes, he is a human being. Therefore, a cordial and friendly environment must be created among human beings. If we also remember that every human being is made in the image of God, that he has something of God in him, the more he has a right to our love.
The Lord Jesus loved all men because He saw the image of His Father in their faces. In His love, He went so far as to kneel before men, as He did in the case of the apostles when He knelt to wash their feet. But see also when He died on the cross for us all. He could rightly say then: “Greater love has no one than this than he who lays down his life for his friends” (Jn 15:13). Only Jesus and no one else has given us more beautiful proof of love. All similar examples of sacrificial love are but poor imitations of Christ. They are, however, imitable if we do them for Christ’s sake.
What does it mean to abide in the love of Jesus? It means putting ourselves in the needs of other people. To love is not just to talk the talk, but we are to do the deed. True love for our neighbor is humble. It has characteristics of suddenness and gentleness. It does not want to be known, to be glorified. It rejoices in unobtrusively fulfilling its mission.
In accord with Holy Scripture, love is more joyful when we give than when we receive. True love can be likened to a river into which new tributaries constantly flow. As waters fertilize a vast landscape, so true love enriches many. It is well known that no act done out of love goes unanswered, but a new act of love is born. A man who loves his neighbor does not grow old because he still feels joy in the happiness of others.
Dearest Ones, this is something for us. Everyone wants to be happy. And in the words of Jesus, we find the prescription.
Brothers and sisters, it is a great joy for parents to look into their child’s face and see their face in it. When a father holds his son in his arms, we involuntarily look for similarities in features and later characters. Our human sight wants to penetrate it all. : we would like to see.
Even the apostles wanted to see the Father. And Jesus answers in amazement, “Philip, I have been with you so long, and you do not know me? Whoever sees me sees the Father…” (Jn 14:9).
This passage from the Gospel of John again contains one almost `amazing’ point – a misunderstanding in the dialogue between Jesus and his disciples. Jesus’ thinking is radically different. Once again, he is out of step with his surroundings. He transcends the myopia of human ideas. Philip indeed asked quite sincerely – even plainly.
But… it’s best if we put ourselves “in the shoes” of Philip for a moment and imagine Jesus addressing us by name as well, asking, “You’ve been with me so long, and you don’t know me?”
That’s how long you’ve been with us, Lord – years, decades… That’s how long we’ve been praying for you, trying to communicate with you, pleading with you… Many of us could confess our personal experience of Christ, yet we still don’t know him, we doubt… We want to see the Father as if the Son were not enough. And that’s the minor problem with our relationship.
Especially in the 1990s, Father & Son type companies appeared in our living space like mushrooms after the rain. What has been a decade or more long tradition in Western economies? Father and son – continuity of life, ideas, work… What a natural thing. Quite close to us.
Something similar, but an entirely different relationship quality, is presented today by Jesus. Our quality of relationship with Jesus is also built on the understanding of the phrase, “He who sees Me sees the Father.” Notice that everything Jesus does, he builds it up in people’s hearts and does not just bind it to his person. He is constantly talking about the Father. And we always feel the warmth of the relationship between him and the Father – we think it in his words, his attitudes. The Father’s whole life is determined by unity with the Son and vice versa.
Today is a new challenge for our faith. A faith that goes beyond parochialism to persons is faith in the Trinity – in a relationship that produces love. He who loves is very close to seeing more than Philip saw. To see the Father in the Son. That he not be seduced by the temptation of our experience, which presents the relationship of father and son as a struggle, a competition, and sometimes even hatred.
Jesus spoke to the apostles and another lesson of the Gospel that is of fundamental importance for us. The Father-Son relationship is eternal, and we are called to live in his image already here on earth. The Father-Son relationship is existential for each of us. In a sense: it determines our whole life. Let us not be afraid to embrace this mystery of the relationship between the Father and the Son, for only it will teach us to live our fatherhood and our sonship properly. Each of us is both father and son. If this is not the case, there is still a long way to go…
We know that cutting the power lines doesn’t turn on our light bulbs, lamps, or motors. We understand that a broken water line won’t quench our thirst. We know that what is interrupted is not fit for purpose and that eventually, we will know the natural consequences of the interruption.
In the spiritual life, it is similar. With the Church, breaking contact with God means stopping praying, stopping participating in worship, and stopping accessing the sacraments. Eventually, we also find that much has changed, and for us believers, in that case, only for the worse. Let us try to reflect on this subject today.
The Gospel tells us of a beautiful parable that the Lord Jesus told His listeners shortly before His Passion. The Lord Jesus wanted to remind everyone, including us, of what is most precious in the life of a Christian. It is man’s complete and most perfect union with God. He could not have portrayed this truth better than by a familiar simile to all His hearers. The Israelites had many vineyards. As the Lord Jesus looked at the vine bushes, He said: “I am the vine, ye are the branches. He that abided in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing” (Jn. 15:5).
The Lord Jesus compares Himself to a vine and us to a branch. His speech is multifaceted. He tells us that just as the twig lives only when joined to the bush, man can live life to the full only when perfectly joined to God.
What does this imply? First of all, the connection cannot only be half-hearted. A broken branch still draws the necessary nourishment from the bush, but only partially. We can say that it is still alive, but it is incomplete. It is in danger of being cut off from the bush and burnt. Thus, it will cause itself and the cru a nuisance. Similarly, we can speak of a completely severed twig who would like to live an independent life. Its fate is already sealed. It will wither; it will dry up. It fades because it is deprived of the life-giving sap that can only be drawn from the mother’s grain.
It is most beautiful when the twig is intact and connected to the bush. Only it can give it what it needs to live and bear fruit. The Lord Jesus cares deeply that we live, flowering branches on the bush himself. He is all about authentic connection. We can also say that we are to be as perfectly united to Christ as possible.
The Lord Jesus says: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask what you will, and it shall be done for you. My Father is glorified in that you bear much fruit and become my disciples” (Jn. 15:7).
These words of Jesus are unequivocal. Thus, Jesus longs for our complete union with him. In such union, the terms of St. Paul the Apostle are fulfilled upon us: “It is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me” (Gal. 2:20). This is all the more solemn because Jesus Himself asks us to do so. And let us realize that when Jesus asks, we should not resist. [This is his will. These are words that were very dear to the heart of the Lord Jesus. Therefore, let us persevere in complete union with Him.
What fruit can we expect from this union? Above all, an excellent immunity against our inward evil inclinations. Neither the devil, sin nor the world, with all its seductions, will harm him who lives with Jesus. Such a person feels strong because Jesus is in him, and he is in him. We can also say that Jesus thinks, does, and decides for him. He who leans on Christ depends on an irrefutable rock. It pays, therefore, to be united with Christ.
Another consequence of this union is the strengthening of our faith. A united person is more conscious of his faith than anyone else. Such a one can say with St. Paul, “I know whom I have believed…” (2 Tim. 1:12). Such a person shows his faith in deeds. We can say that he lives his faith daily. There is no difference between what he says and what he does in his life. Unificationism makes his life like the life of the Lord Jesus.
Another consequence of our union with Christ is the multiplication of our love. Because of this union, love grows, becoming as powerful as death. Therefore, such love enriches us and helps us gain much merit. Thanks to it, we then live the entire life of God’s children. Enriched by such love, we do not calculate whether such a union will pay off because we trust Christ that he is the only one who will help us develop our Christian life. Such a life to which the Lord Jesus himself invites us and in which he sees the true meaning of life.
We live in a great hurry. We often say: I have no time. Therefore, we do not notice something beneficial for our life because it passes through our hands without a severe moment of stopping. This Gospel, too, speaks of a powerful and necessary matter for each of us. Jesus wants so much for us to be inseparably together.
A boy once told me: It was Christmas. But it was not a holiday of peace. Dad had more to drink than usual. When he came home, he was sick. Everything was in his way. In the evening, we all cried my siblings and my mother. And Dad slept on the couch. Was this supposed to be a holiday of peace?
Another story: as long as a colleague is out of the office, we’re in heaven. We rejoice when she’s sick or on vacation because there’s always fire on the roof when she’s with us. Restlessness. She always finds a cause and a scapegoat.
On the other hand, we love to remember the places, the people where we had a fantastic experience from which we took away a great treasure – peace.
Jesus wishes for the apostles and that we may have as many such experiences as possible, where peace reigns and triumphs. Jesus expects us peace: “Peace I leave with you, my peace I give to you. But I do not give to you as the world gives” (Jn 14:27).
In the East, it is customary that when people say goodbye, they wish for peace: shalom, lechem! Peace be with you! Or: Peace be with you! When Jesus says goodbye to his disciples, he expects them to be at ease at the end of the first part of his discourse. But this peace is not superficial, insignificant, or deceptive as we often experience in our lives. Still, Jesus is speaking here of peace from God from above. Jesus is filled with it, and that is why he wants to give it to his apostles. There is great peace of love between Jesus and the Father. This peace can bring peace of mind and confidence to the apostles.
Jesus commissioned the apostles to spread his teaching. Therefore, the apostles are also to carry the peace of Jesus into the world. They are to teach the world peace. And that is why in his words, Jesus explains to them that this peace is from the heavenly Father who created this world.
Scientists from all areas of the macro or microcosm say that there is a fantastic movement around us. But they also say that this movement is different from the one we experience in our lives. They say that even though there is unusual movement, it makes you feel at peace. Everything is in its place. Everything has a mission, a position, and a function. We say that God the Father has made this world so immensely beautiful and perfect, before which scientists of world renown take their hats off when they speak of the Lawgiver of this fantastic nature.
We cannot speak of such peace in our lives. The constant tension, the rush, the hurry. Yes, it is movement. But this movement, this haste, cannot satisfy a man. Man does not find peace, or enrichment, quite the contrary. The word peace ceased to be pronounced, but the world has lost the actual content of the word. The word peace must first find its original content, and only then can we move on.
We, believers, say that the peace of Christ is the gift of God. Therefore, man can prepare himself to receive it by loving and obeying God. Whoever denies the peace of Christ cannot speak of true peace. Christ teaches us about peace, which is based on love. St. John the Apostle wrote: God is love, which means that there can be no peace where there is no love.
In vain will we speak of disarmament, of helping others, if there is no real and true love within us. It is necessary and desirable to see that peace reigns in the world. But we must remember that we must first strive for peace in our hearts, our families, and where we live. Without this sequence, we will never be able to say that real consensus exists or that we are striving for it.
Today’s words also apply: As I am, so is my family. As is my family, so is the town or village where I live. As is the village, so is the state. As are the countries, so is the world.
Peace can never put up with pretense, egoism, or trying to subjugate a brother by force. Peace means giving oneself. To know how to forget, to forgive, to forgive, to be able to see God in one’s neighbor. So, what does this mean for us in practice?
Did the father see God in his children and wife? No. That’s why he fell asleep in the pew, and his loved ones couldn’t say that Christmas was a holiday of peace for them.
Can any colleague say of a co-worker that she is a Christian when she keeps finding cause and reason to spread unrest in the workplace?
Many people say more about us tomorrow than they do today that they feel good around us. By our approach to life, let us not only show peace on our faces but, above all, let us have it in our hearts.
Recently, I visited a believing grandmother who can no longer attend church regularly because of her advanced age. I asked her: “Grandma, don’t you feel sad? ‘ And I received the embarrassing reply, ‘Mr. Pastor, no! I am never alone. When I have a moment, I sit down and pray. I have someone to pray for. Sometimes the children come, write, and even want to take me in, but I am fine here for the time being. When I pray, I feel that they are near me, and I often imagine that Jesus, the Virgin Mary, and my deceased are near me.” These are the words of a woman of faith for whom prayer means considerably. She understands the strength that the Lord Jesus offers in the Gospel to the apostles:
“He who loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him; we will come to him and make our abode with him” (Jn 14:23).
In its totality, this gospel is a preparation for the apostles for the moment when they will be without Jesus. Jesus prepares them because he loves them. He lets them know that when he fulfills his mission as Savior and Redeemer, he will not leave them alone even when he goes to the Father. He explains to them not to worry and that He will take care of them uniquely. Furthermore, they are informed that he must go, but they will meet because he is going to prepare a place where he wants to have all his own who will believe in him and live according to his words; that is, he is going to prepare a place for them and us in eternal bliss.
It is an essential and strengthening thought for us that here on earth, we will also be united with Jesus after his departure, but we are also in for a meeting that will know no end, a farewell…
These words of Jesus can also be understood as a light that sheds light on the moment when a person falls into a state of a kind of pessimism, hopelessness, and fear. If we trust in these words of Jesus at that time, one feels strong, and such a believer also realizes that he cannot keep this fantastic idea, which turns into action, that is, into a kind of message, for himself and therefore passes it on to the next generations.
This obliges us today. Today we are not content with believing, but we also have the desire to transform words into action, prepare and transmit to future generations of brothers and sisters the true faith, which is worthy of the noble reward that the Lord has prepared for those who love him.
One such proven way or thing is a good prayer: regular, devout, in union with God. We are already here to create an oasis in our hearts where one is refreshed, encouraged, and recharged. Whoever approaches the teachings of the Lord Jesus in the right way will never feel alone. Because even if he prays alone like the grandmother mentioned above, millions and millions of brothers and sisters are praying with him all over the world who are physically far away, but in God, such a soul lives, moves, and has existed.
In the fifties, a priest friend of mine also found himself in prison. He also survived several months in solitary confinement. That is something complicated. He didn’t see anyone for weeks, just a little light-up through a small window. And yet, he wasn’t allowed to sit; he didn’t even have anything to sit on. On top of that, he was interrogated day and night, sometimes for hours. What kept him going, that he survived at all? The thought that he was in the hands of God! When it was hardest, he used to say that he would whisper like Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, “Father, not my will but yours be done!”
He was considered a Vatican spy, a traitor, and a nation’s pariah. He who taught to love the country taught children to honor their parents and superiors and earned his living by honest work. Today, he is a man without a criminal record because the nation has recognized its mistake and rehabilitated him. He speaks like this: “Already in the seminary, I realized as a young theology student that I would either belong to Christ wholly and completely or I would leave. I didn’t leave. My exercise of devotion to Christ paid off. I could see that in my own life.”
We do not know what the Lord has in store for us. What tests of faithfulness we will have to undergo. Many brothers and sisters have betrayed the Lord Jesus in life’s difficulties. But today, Jesus wants to strengthen us. He goes to the aid of those who remain faithful to Him, who keep His words.
Faithfulness to Christ is a guarantee for us that Jesus will remain faithful to all of us, to those born before, and to you, dear young friends. The believing Christian is never alone. Jesus is with him. He is in our hearts when we pray, when we show love not only for God but also for our neighbor, and even when we want to enjoy our youth to the full.