Yesterday's Gospel is a common passage from Scripture, one that most of us have heard hundreds of times over the course of our lives during Mass, Bible studies, and talks. The simple (or not so simple!) message is that we are to love one another as God has loved us, meaning that our love is unconditional, constant, and pure. Our pastor, Fr. Troy, gave a wonderful homily yesterday about a deeper message from this passage, and I thought that it was worth sharing with all of you.
Jesus tells us that he abides in his Father's love because he has kept his commandments; in the same way, we abide in Jesus' love when we keep his commandments. Fr. Troy asked the question yesterday, "What sort of love was it that God had for His only son?" We look at Jesus' life and see that God allowed His son to endure great suffering at the hands of his enemies, and even at the hands of his dearest friends! He was beaten, slandered, and nailed to a cross, and he experienced the greatest emotional and physical suffering imaginable before his death. "Some love," said Fr. Troy, "some love."
But here is the important part, the part that really stuck with me: Through all of Jesus' suffering, God was with His son. He didn't spare his son from being tortured, embarrassed, or put to death, but he walked through the depths of suffering with Jesus, and loved him through it all. As a parent, I realize that watching my child suffer is one of the most difficult things that I will ever have to do, and it would be easier to take their pain upon myself than to watch them suffer. But I know that at one point or another, my children will suffer, and I will promise to walk with them through the depths of their pain and feel their suffering as my own. This is what God did for Jesus, what he does for each of us, and what He asks us to do for one another.
On Friday, we remembered the three year anniversary of our daughter, Lucy Rose's, diagnosis with anencephaly, a fatal birth defect. Throughout the next couple of months, our dearest friends walked with us through the depths of our suffering, listening to us when we needed someone to talk to and supporting us in ways that I am still to this day in awe of. It was not easy for our friends, and at times I'm sure that it was uncomfortable and painful for them to walk this path with us. But our friends loved us enough to stay with us through our journey of great joy and great pain, and we are forever grateful. And this is a cause for great joy, isn't it? The love that we felt from our dear friends brought us indescribable joy and peace, and it made the pain that we felt at losing Lucy bearable. This is the love that Our Lord asks of us, and it is the love that will lead us to a place where we can truly abide in His love so that "our joy might be complete".
Mary, Mother of Great Joys and Mother of Great Sorrows, pray for us!
*Note: Please forgive any grammatical errors or inconsistencies, I've had a restless 18 month-old at my feet while writing this post :)