From the Gospel of John 15:9-17.
The theme of this Sunday’s Gospel is love. It is not the kind of love that is often presented as a kind of emotional attachment between people. The love that Jesus has for us is truly real. Real love is shown in action. Jesus tells us that “greater love has no man than this, that a man lays down his life for his friends”(John 15:13). Earlier Jesus tells us that “I am the good shepherd, I lay down my life for my sheep”. (John 10:15). Jesus has shown us his love by carrying his cross up a hill, and then laying down his life upon it. Jesus valued our souls more than he valued his own life. When we read this Sunday’s Gospel, we must remember that these words were carried out. Jesus really is that man who can have no greater love for us. This love that forgets itself is what love really is. Jesus also tells us that He loves us as the Father has loved Him. It is not possible for us to really comprehend what it means to be loved with a love that has no limit.
Jesus tells us here that we are his friends, not servants. A friend is one who gives freely. The saying “a friend in need is a friend indeed”, is another way to express the reality that true love is shown by actions. We are the ones in need of a Saviour, and Jesus comes to earth saying to us “I have called you friends”. It is difficult to truly believe that we are called friends of the Son of God. These two declarations of Jesus, that we are His friends and that His love for us has no end, are the foundation of our spiritual lives. Accepting the reality of Jesus’ love for us is not an easy thing to do. Even when we think we know this, Jesus often finds ways to show us that we don’t really know it. Learning to accept the reality of Jesus’ love for us is the path whereby we can become confident in Jesus and learn to trust him more and more. When times are hard, remembering the words of Jesus in this Gospel can give immense strength to carry on.
Our love for Jesus is shown when we keep His commandments. In this Gospel, Jesus declares that His commandment is “that you love one another as I have loved you”. Jesus’ disciples will be known by the love they bear one another. This teaching is perhaps the most needed in the Church today. It must be remembered what love really is when we reflect upon Christ’s Church today. Jesus is “the way, the truth, and the light” (John 14:6). If we love Jesus, then we believe what He teaches us through His Church. However, it is not enough to simply believe, we must love as well. St Paul tells us that if he has “not love, I am nothing” (1 Cor 13:2). In the last line of this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus gives us motivation to hope. “whatever you ask of the Father in My name, He will give it to you” (John 15:16). So when we ask the Father to fill us with faith, hope and love in Jesus’ name, He will give it to us.