Love Brings Joy
In the second reading, John addresses readers very warmly, calling them “beloved”. It is quite appropriate in the context of the letter where he will discuss the theme of Christian love. For John, in all his writings – Gospel, Epistles and Revelation – love marks the core identity of every Christian. John exhorts all Christians to love each other as he describes them as people who love their neighbour (1 Jn 2:10, 3:11).
Then in a few words, John describes God – “God Is Love”. This statement is found only once in scripture, yet it is the essence of the entire Bible. This revelation about God is an outcome of John’s intense meditation about Jesus and His need to come into the world. Jesus’ death on the cross is the sign of God’s love for humanity. All love, “comes from God,” and therefore, everybody who loves is born of God.
In the epistles, John makes three parallel statements about God. They are:
- God is Light (1:5),
- God is Love (4:8), and
- God is Spirit (4:24).
‘God is Spirit’ explains the metaphysical nature of God. ‘God is Light’ may give the idea of God’s appearance and glory. But the statement, ‘God is Love’ expresses the character of God which is more appealing to the human heart.
In todays Gospel passage, in Jesus’ words John presents the ultimate expression of God’s love. Jesus presents His love not as a model to be imitated, but as a source of Christian life to be lived. Therefore, when a disciple of Christ expresses his/her love, it is, in fact, Christ manifesting His own love through him/her. Through our love for others, Jesus cares for others, He comforts the people, helps the poor, heals the sick and guides them to the Father.
For John, our act of love leads us to God’s joy. Joy in Johannine writings is a direct outcome of a life of obedience to God and a reward for obedience. When we obey Jesus’ commandment of love, we are led into a state of joy. The joy of Jesus is the delight that arises from the sense of a finished work – it is a creative joy.
Christian love, therefore, is dynamic. It has the power of God. It creates and recreates. Love carries with it the reward of joy which is the reward of a life fully lived in the presence of God – who is absolute love.
– Fr. Ranjan D’Sa