Love One Another
May 15, 2020
Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter
“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.”
Opening Prayer: God my Father, I ask in your name for the grace to be able to pray. I do not know how to pray as I ought, but the Spirit in me inspires true prayer. I love you, Father mine, and I love your Son; let me remain in your love.
1. To Lay Down One’s Life: “This is why the Father loves me, because I lay down my life in order to take it up again. No one takes it from me, but I lay it down on my own. I have power to lay it down, and power to take it up again. This command I have received from my Father” (John 10:17-18). He received this command from the Father, not as an order imposed from outside by steel-tipped boots, but as the inner exigency of his love for us. For Jesus, “God’s commands are not burdensome” (1 John 5:3). We know this because he went to the Cross with the utmost freedom. Both the Father and the Son love us with the same free and gratuitous love. “For the Father himself loves you, because you have loved me and have come to believe that I came from God,” (John 16:27). God’s commands should not be burdensome for us either. “Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given.” – Deus Cari tas Est 14.
2. Appointed to Bear Fruit: Christ has chosen us to go out and bear fruit, and this means laying down our lives—suffering. “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit” (John 12:24). The seed which forgets itself will bear the type of fruit that remains. “Those who sow in tears will reap with cries of joy” (Psalms 126:5). Our suffering is not useless; it is the source of a mysterious fruitfulness. The other component of fruit-bearing is “going out.” When the Last Supper ended, the apostles did not remain enclosed in the Upper Room. In fact, the book following John’s Gospel is the Acts of the Apostles. These men were chosen by Christ to bear witness to his Resurrection–amidst much suffering–and thereby bear fruit.
3. Love One Another: Christ does not monopolize us. His love for us and our love for him is not to be exclusive, but rather the fount of love for our brothers and sisters. Fr. Alban Goodier, SJ, in his book The Passion and Death of Our Lord Jesus Christ, makes explicit that just before Christ died, it weighed heavily on his heart that the apostles should truly love one another. That’s why he commanded them to wash each other’s feet. His own sacrificial love for them would be the standard of their love for one other: “Love one another as I have loved you.” With every ounce of his capacity for expression, he sought to show them that night “all he would have them to be to one another” (Goodier).
Conversing with Christ: Lord Jesus, I do not want to skim over love, but to be inundated and saturated with it. Let my love be as practical and concrete as it is deep and spiritual. Grant me the gift of loving others as you love me.
Resolution: Lord, today, by your grace, I will begin a habit of daily spiritual reading, so that God can nourish the seed of love planted in me.
For Further Reflection: Watch Mother Teresa’s acceptance speech of the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize, in which she tells us what it means to love one another.