John 15; 9 – 17
This Gospel for today is part of the Last Supper Discourse of Jesus that is found in the Gospel of John. It is a lengthy instruction that covers four chapters of the Fourth Gospel. This discourse does not include all that Jesus said and did at the Last Supper but begins after the washing of the feet, the revelation that one would betray him, the New Commandment “As I have loved you, so you should love one another, and that Peter would deny him. The discourse begins with Jesus telling them that he must go to the Father’s house, He will send the Holy Spirit, and that we are connected to Jesus as the branches of a vine are connected to the vine. After all this Jesus Returns to the commandment he began with, Love one another.
The love that surrounds us is easy to talk about. Both the word love and its’ meaning have been so trivialized that love has been reduced to a feeling, infatuation or craving about or for someone or something that is often merely for one’s own satisfaction. True love, which is the love Jesus speaks of, is quite different. It is does more than surround us, it fills us and touches us at the very core of our being. It’s the love that consumes our heart. True love involves first and foremost our giving of ourselves totally to another without expecting anything in return. True love is given without condition. In the 23rd chapter of Saint Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians he describes love as being, patient, kind, not jealous or pompous, not inflated or rude, not selfish, quick tempered or brooding over injury, it rejoices in the truth and not wrongdoing. Love never fails.
When we hear Jesus speak of this love in the Gospel he does so while giving us the example of what true love is. Saint John describes this in his First Letter; “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (I JN 4: 10) In order to truly understand the love that Jesus speaks of and calls on us to live, we must first be open to being loved by God. One always falls short in trying to analyze and explain God’s love, for it is something that only takes on meaning when we experience it. This is the experience each of us is called to have as a beloved son or daughter of a loving, Heavenly Father. God’s love for us is not affected by our acceptance or rejection, our Godly living or Sinful living for God’s love is the perfect and unconditional love that never fails.
During the Easter Season we are reminded over and over again of the great love God has for us in sending his Son, Jesus, to die for us to forgive our sins, and to rise for us so as to lead us to heaven. It’s a message we need to hear over and over again so as to continue to be open to the experience of God’s love which is unlike any other experience of love that might touch us. In two weeks we celebrate Pentecost. Let us take these final two weeks before we end the Easter Season as a time during which we prayerfully and intentionally open our hearts to receive and be renewed by a deeper experience of God’s love in our lives. It is in this way that we can truly understand and live the command Jesus gives to us to Love one another as he loves us.
Father Killian Loch, O.S.B.
Illustration: Painting gifted by King Ludwig to Saint Vincent in the 1850s