Sunday 13 May 2012
Readings at Mass
1 John 4:7-10
My dear people,
let us love one another
since love comes from God
and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Anyone who fails to love can never have known God,
because God is love.
God’s love for us was revealed
when God sent into the world his only Son
so that we could have life through him;
this is the love I mean:
not our love for God,
but God’s love for us when he sent his Son
to be the sacrifice that takes our sins away.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved 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 own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another, as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you.
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me:
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’
It is very clear that Jesus command to us today to ‘love one another’ means a sacrificial not a superficial love.
‘We can’t choose our family but we can choose our friends’ the old saying goes.
Jesus, speaking at the last Supper chooses us to be His friends. What have we done to deserve such an honour? Nothing. But that is his desire. And this sort of carefree choice of friends should guide us too. The conditions or characteristics of being a friend of Jesus, simply put, is to follow His commandments, and to go and bear fruit. These are the proofs of love. What fruits (like the vine and the branches in last Sunday’s Gospel) are we producing?
To be a (paid) servant by way of contrast is to have fewer rights, to be at the bidding of the Master or Mistress, to stand and wait, to be fully at the mercy and disposal of the will of another. It can be a form of surrender of freedom. Yet Jesus instead invites us to sit at the table with Him. He treats us as equals. His concerns are ours, and vice-versa.
Jesus is about to prove His care and compassion by the ultimate sacrifice – by dying for us. There can be ‘no greater love’ than to die for love. We are moved to tears by the stories, even myths and legends of lovers who die for one another rather than see harm come to the loved one (the beloved) – but Jesus has and is ‘the greatest love of all.’
We are called to imitate this love in everyday occurrences - to ‘love one another’. This is easy for us to do when our kindness is returned, when there is a ‘quid pro quo’. But what are we to do when others ignore us, are insensitive, even to the point of being indifferent or insulting! Now there’s the challenge to love! To love those who have hurt us, injured us, ignored us or were perhaps even deliberately uncaring, bad-mannered, ignorant, or unfeeling. Yes, we can all think of things and people that have hurt us. Can we forgive? That is a fruit that Jesus wants us to cultivate. It does not come easily. A measure of our love is our willingness to excuse, making allowances for others’ failings, even failings they may not even be aware of. No matter where or who we are there will always be tension, and we may even be the source of it, unknown to ourselves!
Jesus’ words to ‘love one another’ are among His last – they are, if you will, His last will and testament. It is said likewise of John the Apostle, who lay on Jesus’ breast at the Last Supper and who heard these words uttered from the heart of Jesus, that in his elder days, all he could keep saying, even on his own deathbed, was ‘love one another’ to his own followers.
Many books, plays and films have been produced depicting a death scene. If you ever see a movie or play with one – usually towards the end of the movie, the whole audience is reduced to silence, even tears. It does not happen too often but we can remember leaving a performance lost in the drama of it all. Words fail us. It takes time to recover normality.
What would YOU say if you were on your deathbed, to those around you?
What in contrast, would you have a loved one say to YOU?
No doubt you would want to utter, or hear uttered, the word ‘love’.
How would you prove it afterwards? How would you give evidence of it? How would you honour the memory of the one you loved? What would make them proud? Let us ask the Lord to help us prove that we love Him – in those around us – in our thoughts, attitudes, words and actions. Let us be living sermons of our love for one another – and then we will truly be what He wants us to be – not just disciples, but friends. And 'our joy will be complete'.
In memory of my father.