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Friends, two words surface frequently in today’s Gospel: joy and commandments. Now, I submit to you that these are not terms that we would readily juxtapose. We usually associate commandments with the carrying out of duty and responsibility, or laying down the law and establishing order and discipline. But all of this seems opposed to joy. 

We find joy in God alone, for our souls have been wired for God. We must acquire God if we are to be joyful. But here’s the trick—and the whole of the Christian life is on display here: God is love. God is self-emptying on behalf of the other. But this means, paradoxically, that to acquire God is to make of oneself a gift. To have God is to be what God is—and that means giving one’s life away. That alone will make you joyful.

Now we see the link between joy and commandments: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” When we accept this commandment, we walk the path of joy. When we internalize this law, we become happy.