6th Sunday in Easter
Jesus said to his disciples: "As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 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."
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I desire to spend this time with you and to be present with you in the Upper Room to experience the depth of your personal love for me. I believe in your love for me, I trust in the redemption you gained for me, and I pledge to never abandon you, and to dedicate my life to showing you my love in the way I treat others.
Petition: Lord, I ask for the grace to remain in your love, fulfilling your command of charity. Send your Holy Spirit into my heart to enable me to grow in my love for you.
1. The Depths of Jesus’ Love. Jesus makes a startling revelation: He says that the love he has for us, his disciples, is the same as the love the Father has for him. Here is the remarkable thing: the Father “cannot help” loving the Son, for the Son is full of perfection, he is the perfect image of the Father, he is God and Goodness… So the Father’s love for the Son is explicable. But we are sinners, and yet Jesus says he loves us as intensely, as sincerely as the Father loves him. Before even the world came to be, the Father and the Son were immersed in boundless, mutual love. The Holy Spirit is this bond of love. The intimacy of the union and self-giving of the Blessed Trinity surpasses any human comparison, and yet Our Lord tells his disciples he loves us in the same way. This shows the depth of Jesus’ love for us. It is not a passing feeling, it is not superficial, it won’t ever end. It is the one thing we can always depend upon in life.
2. The Cost of Love. The circumstances and timing when Jesus chose to let his disciples in on his great truth are striking. It was not a moment in which everything was going fine. On the contrary, he is just a few hours away from giving his life for them, he is a very short time away from the moment in which his love for them and the Father will be severely put to the test –in Gethsemane every human fiber in him will cry out to his Father if there is not some other way to save us. He will then be abandoned and betrayed by those he now calls friends. Yet Jesus will say to his Father, “not my will but yours be done.” With his actions Jesus shows us that when he says he loves us he means he will be faithful to us, no matter what the personal cost to him, and no matter how weak we are. Love is what Jesus gives us freely, it is not a repayment for some great thing we have done for him. Jesus also offers me his friendship. He invites me to remain in his love. I am not called to be a spectator, but to learn from him and “do likewise”.
3. Bear Fruit, Love One Another. Jesus says that he has appointed us to go forth and bear abundant fruit. Our following of Christ is not something to be hidden. Love can’t be hidden, it has to express itself. And he tells us that the way to bear fruit is by loving one another as he has loved us. But how could be ever love in the same way? How could we ever be as generous with our enemies? How could we ever be as faithful to our friends? Yet that is the command—not suggestion but command—that Christ gives us. How can he make such a demand and hope for it to be fulfilled? Because he sent us his very own Spirit. The first Christians, the martyrs down through the ages, our suffering brothers and sisters today, the missionaries and the known and unknown Mother Theresas, so many faithful spouses and parents, all show us that self-sacrificing love is possible, and not only possible but the secret to happiness and the source of hope for the world. This is the challenge that Jesus lays down for me, love as I have loved. Love is the badge of every true Christian.
Conversation: Jesus, I pray that I will never cease to be astonished by the depths of your personal love for me. You call me your friend even though I have not always lived up to the demands of this calling. From now on, I want to be a better and truer friend of yours.
1. Can I say I really appreciate the gratuity of Christ’s love for me? Do I really believe he didn’t have to love me?
2. Have I reflected enough on what it cost Christ to love me? How does my own love for him and the souls God has entrusted to me compare with his?
3. Is love still a mushy, abstract idea for me, or does it mean something real and tangible? What can I do to improve my love for God and my love for my neighbor?