Sixth Sunday of Easter | Year B

Posted on mayo 3, 2024 View all Gospel Reflection

There is a joke that asks, “What do you call a book club that’s been stuck on the same book for more than 2000 years?” [The answer] The Church. We have covered much of John’s Gospel in the last few weeks so that Joy and Love are the only new themes that emerge this Sunday. 

The most popular class in the history of Yale University is on “happiness and well-being” which teaches how to build more productive habits and wellness activities. As helpful as that is, joy goes deeper. The Catechism says that true happiness is found in God alone, the source of every good, and the love and joy of the Lord is relying totally on Him as our Creator” (1723; 301).

Jesus says to us from our Gospel in John 15:11, May my joy be in you…that your joy might be complete.”

The facial and linguistic expression of joy can be seen in the annual Chrism Mass in the words of the consecration of the chrism oil which is used in the Sacrament of Confirmation: “When every offense is removed through the waters of Baptism, the anointing with this oil causes our faces to be joyful and serene.” 

Similarly, in a book by William Golding, a character named Sammy, who had many problems both within and without, finally says to himself, «There is no point at which something has knocked on your door and taken possession of you. You possess yourself.”1

Joy, serenity and love have to be protected by staying within ourselves.

St. Gregory says that St. Benedict dwelt with himself (habitare secum); “to dwell with the self.” Benedict remained always in the presence of his Creator. He did not allow his heart to divert its gaze to outward things.’ The passage shows us where St. Benedict’s tranquility came from. Interiority and inwardness that is the ground of our ourselves.

Jesus’ words today of “remain in my love…[just like] I remain in the Father’s love” hint that love is especially important in understanding the Trinity.

One way to understand the Trinity is a circle of love, in which each person is giving himself to the others. The Father is always giving his whole Self to the Son; the Son is always giving his whole Self to the Father, and the Person they exchange is the Holy Spirit. Entering into this circle happens with our participating in the divine nature by our baptism. There is protection within the circle.

There is one thing to guard against: Do not let the negative possess your heart. And pursuing pleasure leads to unhappy results when the sinful habit ends up making pleasure into an idol one can use, and now the idol has `a life of its own and is using the person.

Who has control? The rider or the horse?

Without making this protecting love of God too abstract, to abide in God “means holding on loyally to the free decision once taken, and one can only hold on to it by continually going through [the decision to abide] again.2

“If you keep my commandments, I.Y.K.M.C., you will remain in my love.”

Habitare secum “to dwell with the self.” The opposite is akedía, boredom, discouragement, laziness, sleepiness, melancholy, sadness, and lack of enthusiasm and motivation. Monastics who suffer from akedia find the effort of remaining in the solitude of their room unbearable, are unable to inhabit their own body (habitare secum), and have the impression that time passes unbearably slowly.3

Many avid readers will tell you that they read a favorite book every year, for insight and comfort. We do the same thing as Catholics in our over 2000 year book club. A review of today’s chapter is that to be joyful and serene comes from God and maintained by dwelling within ourselves and to stay in God’s circle of love.

1.    Harold Bloom, Blake Hobby; Sin and Redemption, (04/01/2010) p 124

2.    R. Bultman, John, ET Blackwell, 1971, p 536

3.    Enzo Bianchi, Akedia, Bose Monastery, blog