AS THE FATHER HAS LOVED ME, SO HAVE I LOVED YOU; ABIDE IN MY LOVE
(A biblical reflection on THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR B] – 9 May 2021)
Gospel Reading: John 15:9-17
First Reading: Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; Psalms: Psalm 98:1-4; Second Reading: 1John 4:7-10
The Scripture Text
“As the Father has loved Me, so have I loved you; abide in My love. If you keep My commandments and abide in His love. These things I have spoken to you, that My joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.”
“This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. You are My friends if you do what I command you. No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from My Father I have made known to you. You did not choose Me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in My name, He may give it to you. This I command you, to love one another.” (John 15:9-17 RSV)
Love is the life and the power of the Gospel. Jesus triumphed over sin and Satan on the cross, not because we deserved it, but simply because God loves us. So great was His love that He went so far as to sacrifice His only Son that we could live. “In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent His only Son into the world, so that we might live through Him. In this love, not that we loved God but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the expiation for our sins (1John 4:9-10).
This is a love which Jesus continually lavishes upon us, a love in which we can “abide”, resting in God’s provision for us (John 15:9). And He tells how: “Keep my commandments” (John 15:10), primarily, “Love one another as I have love you” (John 15:12). This is not a matter of earning God’s love and approval, but rather, of knowing and experiencing His love, so that we are enabled to share it with everyone.
This is a lesson that even the great apostle Peter had to learn. Though he was astonished to learn that God’s love is intended for all people (Acts 10:34-35), he responded by humbly relating the truth of the Gospel to Cornelius and his entire household. As a result, the Holy Spirit fell upon everyone, even before Peter could finish talking (Acts 10:44-48).
This truth of God’s unconditional love is vital to our faith. Without it, we can easily reduce Christianity to a series of commandments that we must fulfill. We would end up accepting a Gospel message devoid of power because it would be based on our obedience, and not God’s transforming love. But Jesus wants love – His love – to be the basis for our deeds. He wants mercy, not sacrifice (Matthew 12:7). The “marvelous thing” (Psalm 98:1) God has done is that through the cross, He has freed us from the sin that hardens our hearts and blinds us to His love. Because we are redeemed in Christ, all the power of the Gospel can be poured into our hearts.
Prayer: Come, Holy Spirit, and reveal God’s love to us so that we will be able to know the power of the Gospel in our lives today. Amen.
Jakarta, 8 May 2021
A Christian Pilgrim