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Our gospel reading today follows from the vine and the branches parable.
Chapter 15 is Jesus considered his farewell discourse to the men and women who follow him and for us today.
John 15: 9-17
“As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. 10If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
11I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
12My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.
13Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
14You are my friends if you do what I command.
15I no longer call you servants, because a servant does not know his master’s business. Instead, I have called you friends, for everything that I learned from my Father I have made known to you.
16You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you so that you might go and bear fruit-fruit that will last-and so that whatever you ask in my name the Father will give you.
17This is my command: Love each other.
Love that intense feeling of deep affection often described as a mother has for her new born, just one dictionary interpretation of the word.
Somehow, the love that Jesus speaks about in scripture, isn’t quite this. I think that love is a commitment to consistently put another person’s well being and happiness before your own. It’s the love a spouse has for another when he/she puts the other spouse’s needs or desires before one’s own. It’s the love that overlooks another’s faults, and focuses on his/her endearing qualities. It’s the love parents have for their children when they play with a child even though they are really too tired to move. It’s the willingness to lay down one’s life for another to protect that person from pain.
True love is hard. It is demanding. It requires virtue and brings out the best in all involved in the love relationship.
Sometimes, it is difficult to love – When our kids are whiny, or our spouses are annoying. With acquaintances and strangers, it can be even more difficult. We know that all people are God’s children. Unfortunately, it is often hard to see God in them – especially when they are rude, or don’t think the way that we do.
This passage is beautiful. I especially love the part when Jesus said, “It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.” He picked me! He picked me! He picked you! How do we bear fruit that will remain? By preaching on the street corner? By shouting from the mountaintop?
I think that Mother Theresa and St. Therese of Lisieux truly understood and lived this gospel. Their way of life – their goal – was to do everything with love – to see the face of Christ in everyone with whom they interacted. But they were saintly individuals, you might say. Yes, they were. How could Mother Theresa care so tenderly for the dying, the wretched, the foul smelling? How did St. Therese’ treat with only kindness the nuns who were jealous of her and downright mean? They obtained much grace to love like Jesus loves through prayer. Both of these great, yet humble ladies, began their days with extended time in the Presence of our Lord.
In our situation today with the deadly coronovirus, we see that tender care for the sick and dying by hundreds of health care workers in the NHS, Nursing Homes, friends and neighbours putting others before themselves. That surely is a ‘thing called love’.
Let us look to them as shining examples of how we can live Jesus’ command to love one another. A good start would be to extend our prayer time – reading God’s Word and listening to Him in silence – by 5 minutes each day. If you spend 0 minutes now, try 5. If you spend about 5, try 10. God wants to pour grace upon us – to quench our thirst for Him – but we must come to the well to drink – to fill up. Prayer time is when we meet Him at the well! Amen
Collect an alternative prayer for the day
your wounds declare your love for the world
and the wonder of your risen life:
give us compassion and courage
to risk ourselves for those we serve,
to the glory of God the Father. Amen.