May 22, 2017
In the Gospel this weekend Jesus tells his disciples, “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” Of which commandments is Jesus speaking? Recall Jesus said, “I give you a new commandment, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’” And Jesus taught the two-fold commandments of love God and your neighbor. This word “love” is at heart of Jesus’ teaching and the essence of the Gospel this weekend. Jesus says, “whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,” and he promised to send us the Holy Spirit to help us to love. Ok, so what does Jesus mean when he says “love”? Because there is a lot of confusion about love today. People mean many different things when they use it. They say, “I love my cat,” or “I love Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups”. Love can refer to friendships. Love can be romantic. The word Jesus used most frequently to describe the type of love he had for the Father and for you and me is the Greek word agape. Agape is selfless, sacrificial, generous, and unconditional love. It is more than a good sentiment or warm feeling of affection for someone. It is the kind of love that a mother has for a child when she gets up in the middle of the night to take care of him. It is the kind of love that we see from policemen and firemen who run into a burning building to save someone. Agape is the love Jesus revealed on the Cross when he put into action his words, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” That’s agape love. Total, complete, unconditional love. Today, men and women are infatuated with counterfeit loves. They are obsessed with being liked, desired, and accepted. And they will do almost anything to obtain these lesser forms of love. But it doesn’t satisfy. Deep in our hearts, we know, we were created for more. Our yearning to be loved is a yearning for God. The love God wants to give you- and for you to give others- is radically different than the love offered by the world. God loves you, not because of anything you do for him, but simply because you are His. This week let us reflect on this love and our response to God’s love. It seems to me we will either love more or love less. Sometimes we turn away from love because it can be painful. Sometimes we turn away from love because we don’t want to be hurt. Sometimes we turn away from love because we are afraid of what might be asked of us. But true wisdom lies in realizing that love is the only way. This week let us ask the Lord to help us abandon ourselves to His love that we might more willingly lay down our lives for love of others.