Gospel in a Nutshell
In its brevity, today’s Gospel summarises the whole Christian message: we receive through Jesus that experience of Love from which every Christian life begins, we are invited to follow the commandments by which we remain in God’s Love, and we are gifted with the promise of Jesus’s own eternal joy.
Reading: John 15:9-11
The following homily was preached to the student brothers during compline. You can listen here or read below:
Today’s Gospel is rather short; the Liturgy offers us only three verses. And yet, in this handful of sentences, the Lord discloses to us the whole mystery of that new life, which is Christianity… a sort of Gospel in a nutshell!
First, we hear Jesus letting us into the intimacy of His relationship with the Father. He is talking about that Love that is the life of the Trinity and that existed even before anything else had come into being. Here Jesus is talking not of abstract knowledge but of His direct experience as the Son of the interplay of Love between Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Thanks to Jesus, not only do we know that God is a communion of Love, but also that, in Jesus, we too are made partakers of that same Divine Love, not only in the life to come but here and now. From this experience begins the journey of every Christian life, a life at last filled with meaning, with direction and with that peace that comes from knowing that our life is precious before the eyes of the Most High.
Only in light of this unconditional Love can we read the second verse in which Jesus bids us to follow the commandments. Keeping the new law of loving God and neighbour is not the price we must pay to gain some benevolence from God. On the contrary, following the commandments is the concrete way we live faithfully in the Love we have first received. Obedience, which must fill the entirety of our Christian journey, is our way of enjoying concretely and showing loyally our communion of Love with ‘the One who has loved us first’ (cfr. 1 Jn 4:19).
At the end of such a life of obedience to that primordial Love we received, we reach the fullness of joy promised by Jesus in the last verse. Although there will be moments of doubt and unfaithfulness on our part, God’s Love can even turn the sorrow of sin into the joy of being gratuitously forgiven, if we sincerely let Him do so. The joy that we shall finally possess is Jesus’s own joy, that same unshakeable delight that He has always enjoyed in the eternal communion of Love in the heart of the Trinity.
This is the summary of the Christian good news that we receive today in God’s Word. Now, ‘if you know these things, you are blessed if you do them’ (Jn 13:17).
Image: Christ Washes the Apostles’ Feet – mosaic in the Duomo of Monreale. Courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
Brilliant and so pedagogical.