Ps 57:8-10, 12
USCCB Podcast of the Readings:
A reading from the Holy Gospel according to John.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
Good News Reflection:
In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus emphasizes that he has chosen us to be his friends. He chose you! He looked at you and said to the Father, “I want to be close friends with this one!”
Slaves serve their masters out of fear and duty. Friends serve each other because they care. Jesus doesn’t want us to serve him with the “do it or else” fear of punishment. Nor does he want us to serve him out of obligation and duty. Rather, he wants us to realize that he’s here to serve us because he cares about us. Then, because we appreciate him so much, we want to serve him by helping him serve others.
In our enthusiastic love for Jesus, we love everyone whom he loves, and we want to serve them as he serves them. Jesus and you are friends who partner together to make the world a better place.
Jesus summarized all of the Holy Commandments in one sentence: “Love one another as I love you.” Do you obey God because you love others?
Do you obey Church teachings because you love others? What about those teachings that you don’t like: Have you investigated how they empower you to love others? (The teachings about artificial contraception and family planning, cohabitation and marriage, and divorce and annulments are common examples, and yes even the teachings about same sex marriages — all of it truly is about loving others in the most Godly ways!)
We are friends of Jesus to the extent that we love everyone whom he loves and to the extent that we serve them as he serves them, for he serves them not only with us but through us. This of course means doing good to everyone, even those who bring trouble into our lives. Jesus is our example of how to serve the sinner while being uncooperative with their sins.
Loving means caring; it does not mean putting up with evil. Do you pray for those who’ve made you suffer? Not this kind of prayer: “Punish them God the way they deserve. Make them suffer like they made me suffer.” Instead, do you ask God to heal their souls and bless them with his mercy? If they don’t repent, they will reap what they sow and suffer terrible consequences. Do you feel sad for them?
It can be difficult, but by uniting ourselves to Jesus and his way of handling sinners, we obey the Father just like Jesus did. Then, whatever we ask the Father in his name (i.e., while united to Jesus), it will be given to us. This is a fact, because when we’re united to Jesus, we don’t ask for anything that is not already the Father’s will for us. And thus, Jesus gets another opportunity to serve us, to his great delight.
If we want to grow deeper in our love relationship with God, we will serve our friend Jesus by serving those around us, because he cares about them and so do we. In friendship, Jesus serves us as we walk the extra mile for others.
Love is supposed to be the bottom line and top priority of every decision we make and every action we take, even if it doesn’t seem right in our limited understanding and our wounded hearts. This is how we lay down our lives for our friend Jesus.
We want to be a community, Lord! We want Your love to finally reign in our hearts! May Your Holy Spirit unite us as true brothers and sisters so the world may be eager to be with You! Amen.
© 2017 by Terry A. Modica