In Psalm 66, God’s tremendous deeds cause the people to cry out to God with joy, to sing prayers of praise to God’s name. Prayer is their first impulse, and their most true one, for it is through prayer that the people of Israel open their hearts and maintain their relationship with the God who loves them.
How much more joyful can our prayers be, then, when we open ourselves to the love sent by God in the form of his Son Jesus? In our reading from John’s Gospel this Sunday, Jesus gently explains that, while his death may be imminent, the disciples need not fear: you are in me and I in you, Jesus explains. It is a reassuring statement, one grounded in a love that is shared in a myriad of ways: whoever loves me will be loved by my Father, and I will love him and reveal myself to him. Love is the connection, the intangible bond that allows Jesus to be sanctified, as 1 Peter states, as Lord in our hearts. It is love that allows us to be obedient, for obedience flows freely from love. It is love that allows us to deal kindly with our neighbors, treating them with gentleness and reverence even when we are maligned. It is love that heals our brokenness, reconciling us – as Philip reconciled the Samaritans with the Jews in our reading from Acts – with one another, breaking down the barriers we erect between self and other, so that all may be one, one in the Father, one in Jesus Christ.
In the joy born of that love, then, let us return to the prayer of the psalmist, as we recognize that, of all the tremendous deeds of God on this earth, the most tremendous of all is the Love He sent, the Love we embrace, the Love that is the reason for our hope, the infinite Love we are called to share with all.
Shout joyfully to God, all the earth...