At the Beach,
Painting by Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927),
Painted in 1913,
Oil on canvas
© Christian Art

At the Beach,
Painting by Edward Henry Potthast (1857-1927),
Painted in 1913,
Oil on canvas
© Christian Art

Gospel of 9 May 2021

That my own joy may be in you

John 15:9-17

Jesus said to his disciples:

'As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love.

I have told you this so that my own joy may be in you and your joy be complete. This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you. A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends. You are my friends, if you do what I command you. I shall not call you servants any more, because a servant does not know his master's business; I call you friends, because I have made known to you everything I have learnt from my Father.

You did not choose me: no, I chose you; and I commissioned you to go out and to bear fruit, fruit that will last; and then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name. What I command you is to love one another.'

Reflection on the Painting

Today's reading continues the theme of love and friendship to which Jesus is calling us. But He also wants us to be full of joy: 'that my own joy may be in you'. The more we love and the deeper our friendship with Christ, the more joy we will experience. This deep joy will also be manifest for others to see. It will be the visible evidence of the Holy Spirit working inside us. This joy is deeper and more significant than mere happiness. Happiness tends to be temporary and relating to circumstances around us, whereas joy is more a permanent state of mind and heart. Even when the world around us crumbles or shakes, the joy of our faith can still be there, as solid as a rock. 

The joy that our faith brings is probably one of the hardest things to explain to someone who does not have faith. It is also something they can easily dismiss as being a naive happiness that faith brings. We have all often heard remarks along the lines of 'Well, it is great that you have faith, and if it makes you happy, then I am pleased for you'. But this joy is much deeper than can ever be explained. Joy is the trust we have that God is in control of all aspects of our lives and that we want to work with God to align our will to His will. The joy that brings is a confidence that no matter the circumstances around us, God will look after us. We feel protected, we feel uniquely loved, we feel happy like a child on a day out with his/her parents…. Above all, this joy will then push us towards doing our best for others. 

So for today's painting I simply want to share an American Impressionist canvas by Edward Henry Potthast, showing a young boy with his mother. The boy is happy, full of joy, exploring the beach, the sea, and ready for the big adventure of life… just as we are when we put our hand into Christ's hand and let him take the lead….

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