Scripture: Lectionary 288. May 2. Acts 15:7-21. Psalm 96: 1-2,2-3,10. John 15:9-11:
John’s Gospel emphasizes the special love called AGAPE; it is especially prominent in the second part of the Gospel which we are now experiencing in the liturgy of the word. Agape love is emphasized seven times in the Fourth Gospel and only twice in the Synoptics. It is this theme of love combined with joy that we are privileged to hear from Jesus in today’s chosen Gospel.
Love is expressed through the symbol of the heart; it is also expressed by the words for womb in Hebrew and by the covenantal words of loving-kindness (Hesed). It comes from the depths of the interior parts of our being and from the human heart of Jesus. Jesus tells us we are loved by him with the very love that the Father has for his Son. This is divine love manifested in the human heart of Jesus that is so unusual and breathtaking that it overwhelms us when we start to understand or experience it. St. Margaret Mary Alacoque experienced this type of love and helped us to understand the Sacred Heart of Jesus with which such love originated. Jesus wants us to be sons and daughters of the Father through this love and to be one with him in its manifestation. We know from our faith and our doctrine that the love between Jesus and the Father is the Holy Spirit. It is the Spirit who not only is our Advocate (Paracletos) but also the gift of joy in the love we have from Jesus and our response in love to him. Jesus promised us this gift so that we would always have this love and the joy that accompanies it. Our joy is to be complete just as Jesus says in the Scripture for this day. We are to live in that love and have life forever through it. All has been changed through the Easter Mysteries we are living through during this season. Love and joy are essential to our very lives and our worship of God through Jesus Christ his loving Son. Jesus is our life, our love, and our joy.
Our Evangelist (John) continually spirals his revelatory message so that we may contemplate it from many levels as we ascend with Jesus through the Resurrection and his glorification. We are helped by this Gospel to become contemplative people who enjoy the profound revelation of the joy and love of Jesus who is life, truth, the way, the Bread, the Wine. We with the love that Jesus has for us and gives to us makes it possible for us to do the will of God by keeping Jesus’ commandment of love wherein we love each other with his very love. This alone can get us past the barriers of human love that in itself is so good. Our human love becomes greater and more God-like when we comprehend that we are to love others not as we would want to be loved but as Jesus loves them; this includes those who are hostile to us and hate us.
John has revealed this love within the setting of the Last Supper and the Passover meal in which Jesus washed the feet of his disciples to help them understand they type of love he was giving them and us. Jesus wanted to demonstrate how we are to love one another with this remarkable action of profound divine-human humility. Amen.
There is another word for love on the human level that is expressed by the verb phelein. Here, too, John surpasses the Synoptics put together. He uses it thirteen times; they eight times together (Matthew 5, Mark 1, and Luke 2 times).
Copyright 2013 Fr. Bertrand Buby, S.M.