LOVE is one of the central themes in John’s gospel. Being loved is the most powerful experience in our life. Our motivation to love is often shaped by our experience of love. We usually love others according to how we ourselves have been loved. Unless we have experienced the great love of God we cannot fathom the depth of Jesus’ love for us.
John chapter 13 relates the Passover of the Lamb of God – Jesus’ last meal with His disciples. At table, Jesus was deeply troubled that night and He said to them in verse 21: “In all truth, I tell you, one of you is going to betray me.” And in verse 38 Jesus told Peter: “In all truth I tell you, before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times.” What do we see in these two verses? We see that Jesus knew exactly what was going to happen.
He knew about Judas and He knew about Peter. Jesus knows us through and through. However Jesus did not attempt to change the situation. Neither did Jesus hate them for what they were going to do – betray Him. Instead Jesus taught them to LOVE ONE ANOTHER and went further to teach them about the SERVICE of love.
In Leviticus chapter 19, Yahweh spoke to Moses and instructed Moses to say to the community in verse 18: “You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudges against the members of your race, but will love your neighbour as yourself.” In the Acts of the Apostles, the early Christian community shows us that despite facing hatred and anger, they persevered in loving each other. In 1 Peter 1:22 we have been advocated to “love each other intensely from the heart.”
This ‘new’ commandment is grounded in the self-offering of Jesus. This is the hallmark of Christianity.
Jesus knows our every action and Jesus still loves us unconditionally and will forgive us whenever we ask for it. Judas could not understand this, and he ended his life tragically. Peter understood and despite his shortcomings, his life ended triumphantly because He acknowledges his weakness and did not let go of his faith in the One who loved him. The 1st reading in Acts 14 Paul and Barnabas gives an account of all that God will do for us and with us. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in their faith. “We all have to experience many hardships” they said “before we enter the kingdom of God”. Jesus did not promise a bed of roses to those who desire to follow Him. All we need to do is to trust in Him to melt our hearts, to allow His Holy Spirit to fill our hearts with His heart and to always persevere in our faith growth.
We have been called to love others
Based on Jesus’ sacrificial love for us.
Love for our Lord is the great motivating source of our life. The more faithful we are to our Lord, the more loving we will be. A Christian knows that his neighbour, the other person, is Christ himself, present in others. We must learn to recognise Christ when he comes to meet us in our brothers, the people around us. It would be good to see how much attention we give to them and how keen we are to enrich the Christian virtue of charity in others. Our spiritual and material responsibilities towards others are demanding but with God’s grace, we can say ‘caritas enim Christi urget nos’: the love of Christ urges us on (2 Cor 5:14) to exercise our love for others. Our faith will grow when it is lived as an experience of love received and communicated to others with grace and peace.
Then the words of Apocalypse chapter 21 will be ours “You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make His home among them; they shall be his people, and He will be their God.”
“Let love be sincere; hate what is evil, hold on to what is good;
love one another with mutual affection; anticipate one another in showing honour.
Do not grow slack in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord.”
– Romans 12:9-11
With love and gratitude,
Questions for Reflection
Do we let Him restore us?
Do we recognize Him in the people who offer us help?
Or do we let our pride stop us from being humble?