John 15; 9-17 Love One Another-the Supreme Commandment
If you were going on a long trip, what would you say to your family and friends before you left?
If your children were moving away from home, what would you say to them?
If you knew that you were going to see someone for the last time, what would you say?
In each case you would probably remind them of your love and care as well as give them some instructions or words of advice. Well, not unlike us, knowing that He was soon to leave, Jesus gave us and his disciples His final instructions and words of advice. Today’s Gospel passage is part of the final instructions that Jesus gave to the disciples the night before he was crucified. Jesus knew that the disciples would not find love in the world. He knew that the world would largely hate them and his message. In fact, the world still hates his message today. How often are Christians belittled, ignored, or even attacked? Nevertheless, we, like the disciples, are called to love each other and our fellow man in spite of opposition. When we love each other, we will experience the joy of obeying God. When we love one another, we also allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and grow in us. But how it grows will depend on our connection to each other, to God, and to His church. The stronger our faith the more we will do, and it is the things that we do for God and for others that brings glory to God and strengthens the Holy Spirit within us.
Love for others means being willing to die for others. Jesus showed his love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. The men and women who serve in our armed forces also show this same type of love. They and countless others who served were willing to sacrifice their lives for the freedom of others. They were willing to go out of their way for others by dying to save their lives. They came to the aid of those who were in need even at their own personal expense, and they are still willing and ready to do so today.
Mothers show this same type of love for their children. More mothers than not would willingly lay down their lives for their children rather than see them suffer. Their love is freely given and given without compromise or cost. That is why we honor them so much. They reflect in a powerful and mystical way, God’s love.
Jesus also showed how far that type of love can take someone when he died for us. If Jesus could lay down his own life for us, isn’t there a part of our lives that we are willing to lay down as well? Maybe it has to do with a prejudice, an unwillingness to help, envy, something related to material goods, hatred, an unwillingness to forgive, or even something else?
This message that speaks of love is intimately connected to relationships. God wants us to have relationships that are more than superficial. But relationship building takes time and requires compassion, wisdom, empathy, kindness, courtesy and forgiveness. When we love one another we act as God’s hands and feet to those that he puts in our lives. Serving others does take time, effort, and sometimes even a little money but the blessings outweigh the costs.
We must not forget that loving others as God loved us is the heart of Christian discipleship.
Christian life can only exist through these human relationships, especially when they are based on mutual respect and humane values. The apostle Peter showed the same type of love in the first reading. His love for others, combined with the visions he and the Roman centurion Cornelius had led Peter to minister to Cornelius and his family. When Peter proclaimed the Good News, the Holy Spirit moved within his audience, and it marked both a second Pentecost and the spreading of the Good News to all people (not just the Jews). If the Holy Spirit could move in the hearts of Peter’s audience, it can also move in the hearts of the people in our world today. Yet, these people will need to be open to hearing it, and more especially we need to be open and willing to share it.
If we are to be fruitful for Christ, we must seek his will for our lives and let him lead us to what he wants us to do for others and for him, even if it seems a little uncomfortable.
Because when we love one another, we fulfill the second of Jesus’ two Great Commandments, to love thy neighbor as thyself. When we love Jesus, he also becomes our true best friend.
· Friends have our best interests in mind, just like Jesus does.
· Friends will be with us in good times and bad times just like Jesus is.
· They help us to expand our world, expose us to new and creative possibilities, and sustain us when we are in need.
God has chosen all of us for the purpose of bearing much eternal fruit in such personal characteristics as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These characteristics will grow within us and help us when we tell others about Jesus and lead them into a fruitful and personal relationship with him.
Let’s take a moment and reflect upon our lives, our lives as Christians.
· We can say that Jesus is our friend, but can we say that we are his friends?
· Do we listen to him when he speaks to us, or do we only want him to listen to us?
· Do we want to know what’s on his heart and mind, or do we only want to tell him what’s on ours?
Being a true friend of Jesus means listening to what he wants to tell us and then using that information to do his work in our world and in our lives.
So what is the true message for us here today? The message is:
· Christ is love, and we are to love as he has loved, even to the point of willingly laying down our lives for our friends.
· Even if the world shall hate us, we are to love, and in that love, and service of love, we will be eternally united with God.
(This homily was adapted from a homily written by Craig Condon)