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(Part 10)


May 11, 2012
Today’s gospel: John 15:12-17

God commands us to love one another. “This I command you: love one another.” (Jn 15:17). This particular gospel passage is like a sandwich, with the commandment to love in verses 12 and 17 as the two outer pieces of bread, and the rest of the verses as the filling.

First, how are we to love? “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” (Jn 15:12). We are not left to our own decision on how we are to love, but we are to love as Jesus loves. How does Jesus love? With a self-sacrificial love. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (Jn 15:13). We are not just to do good to others or share what we have with them, but we are to be willing to give our all, even our very lives.

Second, what is one effect of loving one another? We become Jesus’ friends. “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” (Jn 15:14). Jesus commands us as is fitting for a Master to his slaves. But when we obey, Jesus raises our stature in our relationship with him. “I no longer call you slaves” (Jn 15:15a). Rather than serving at his table, we now sit with him at table. In fact, Jesus had gone further. He reversed roles and took on the posture of a slave, as he washed the feet of his disciples at table.

Slaves mindlessly obey, “because a slave does not know what his master is doing.” (Jn 15:15b). A slave does not even care what his master is doing. He just exists from day to day. On the other hand, friends obey, but from a posture of faith and self-realization. We are God’s instruments and not mindless robots. We are not a sect. We willingly but not blindly obey.

Jesus explains the faith to us. Jesus expounds on the work of the Father on earth. “I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” (Jn 15:15c). Jesus withholds nothing from us. If we are to carry on his work, we are to know everything that he knows. We plunge into a life of faith and mission knowing what these entail, including the hardships and pain.

Third, while we make our assent of faith, it is Jesus who chooses and uses us. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain” (Jn 15:16a). We are special. We are God’s choice. We may not be the choicest of the lot, but we are His choice nonetheless. Now before we become proud, we see that God chooses those who count for nothing. And so we are well qualified!

We are chosen to do what? To bear fruit that will remain. Our work is about the lasting fruit of salvation in the lives of people. It is ultimately about eternal life. This is why we are not just to do good works in life, but we are to evangelize and proclaim the good news of salvation in Jesus. The greatest manifestation of love for others is to help bring them to Jesus and start the process of transformation in Christ.

Finally, Jesus assures us “that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.” (Jn 15:16b). Now this is not just about a mindless formula of prayer or petition “in Jesus’ name.” It is about living in Jesus. It is about being his instrument. It is about being empowered so that we can accomplish the task at hand.

To pray in Jesus’ name is to be one in heart and mind with him. It is to act in accord with his will and plan. It is to obey him in every way. It is to be able to say: this is what Jesus would say or do.

Jesus manifested his great love for all humanity when he gave his very life on the cross. Now he commands us to love one another as he has loved us. Praying in the name of Jesus, we ask that the Father’s will be done in our lives. Thus do we love God and love others as ourselves.

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