The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
May 9, 2021 – Sixth Sunday of Easter - John 15:9-17
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In recent times a new phrase has entered many conversations, especially those that take place via the phone. Just before the traditional “bye” is voiced, there’s often a hurried “love ya” said. I certainly wouldn’t be one to criticise an increase of “love” in the world, but when an expression of love become so common, so habitual and so customary, well, I’m not sure exactly what it means anymore. Maybe we need more than one word to say “love.”
And certainly, we should not be guilty of cheapening the importance of genuine love.
When Jesus reclined at table with his closest friends – for the last time – he decided to use this opportunity to clarify how he understood the meaning of love, especially between us. Not to leave it as a vague feeling between people (or as a quick phrase before saying bye on the phone) he said that we should love each other as he loved them. This was right before he gave his life for them.
In other words, genuine love involves self-giving, the giving of concern, attention, time and action for the one loved. And doing this is hard. Especially when you consider that Jesus didn’t limit the extent of our doing this.
He didn’t say to only love those who first love you, or those who are just like you, or those whom you happen to fancy. Today, it strikes me that his command to love one another might at times cross national borders, racial, ethnic or religious boundaries, and even political differences. And no one would argue that this is easy.
One could also ask whether the command that Jesus gave us to love each other was ever realized in our world. Historians point out that there have been more wars, persecutions, torture and killing in the name of religion than by any other single cause. And this applies to all religions, even the ones who claim that they are based on the teachings of Jesus. Still, the love command of Jesus remains valid and vital to this day – and needed as much now as ever.
A final thought: Notice that Jesus invites us to love each other as he loves us. We are all loved into life by God who first loves us. Thus, our love for others is rooted in our being already loved by God, even before we entered life here on earth. This is the kind of love that inspires and energizes family life, our life of friendship, our very survival.
©David M. Thomas, PhD