( A commentary on John 15: 12-17)
Daily Reflection – 5/7/2021
Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”( John 15:12-17)
I don’t think even Google could give you the number of articles and books that have been written about love through the last two millennia. Why so many? Because love is hard wired into the human condition. We crave it, we seek it, we thrive on it.
In today’s beautiful Gospel, Jesus tells us that he is our friend and he loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he loves us, whole-heartedly and without reserve. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for eternity.
That is about as powerful and straight forward as it can be. Those are words that cling to our heart.
But so often, so many find loving so difficult.
C.S. Lewis wrote a famous essay on love saying that if you want to protect your heart from pain, you must give it to no one. You must enter into no serious relationships, not even with an animal. If you can isolate yourself from all relationships, your heart will not feel pain. In time, however, it will become incapable of feeling anything. If we choose to withdraw ourselves from relationships, we also choose to isolate ourselves from love and from life.
That is not an option for the followers of Christ.
His commandment is not to love God, or to love Jesus, but to love one another. God does not need to be mentioned because that love is only possible when God is acting in and through us. That is the touchstone of the genuineness of our love for God. And the measure of that love is that of Jesus for us. If that is not clear enough, he spells it out: the greatest possible love a person can have is to sacrifice one’s life for one’s friends. That may mean dying for others but it can also mean living for others; in either case our primary concern is concern for the need of the brother or sister. And it is the only path to demonstrate that we love God and that God’s love is in us.
Our love for the Lord will be shown by our love for others and not just by any old feelings of sympathy, but by our willingness to give our lives for others, which begins with giving our time, using our talents, and willingly putting others’ lives above our own.
Pope Francis made this point: “Jesus says something remarkable to us: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ Love always takes this path: to give one’s life. To live life as a gift, a gift to be given — not a treasure to be stored away. And Jesus lived it in this manner, as a gift. … We must not burn out life with selfishness.”
And if you still question how and why, remember this Gospel because Jesus reminds his followers that he has chosen them, they have not chosen him. We do not confer any favor on Jesus by following him. We are only answering a call that has already come from him.
He chose each one of us, not the other way around. Of course, we have free will and choose for ourselves how to respond to God’s love. But he called and loved us first. God the Father chose us through Christ his Son as part of his plan for salvation. Yes, you and I are part of his salvific plan.
Think about that on the days when you are beating yourself up or having doubts about your worth. You are loved and you are part of his plan to bring humanity back to his father. Wow!
Prayer of The Day
“Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord.” (Prayer of Ignatius Loyola)
The Lord Jesus tells us that he is our personal friend and he loves us wholeheartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he has loved us, wholeheartedly, without reserve, and full of mercy, kindness, and forgiveness. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will know his love more fully and we will bear much fruit – especially the fruit of peace, joy, patience, kindness, and goodness – the kind of fruit that lasts for eternity.