May 04, 2018 (Friday of the 5th Week of Easter)
No greater love
Dear friends in Christ, today’s Gospel is a continuation on the teaching of Jesus on love. He places emphasis on love, beyond just the love of the other, as you love yourself; it must be the way Christ loves. An invitation to love till it pains; to love even when it is not appreciated; to love, not in return for love, but in return for the eternal reward which only God bestows.
In today’s Gospel, (John 15:12-17) we are presented with a continuation of the farewell discourse of Jesus at the Last Supper. This was shortly after the departure of Judas, the one who was to betray him. This is a fairly long discourse that deals with the impending death of Jesus, the sadness of the disciples, the reassurance by Jesus that he will send an advocate and the gift of peace. In todays selection, Jesus tells the disciples, “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.” From this, we might just imagine what was going through the mind of Jesus. Can you get into the mind of a soldier who has just been deployed to the battlefront, of a war that has consumed many of his friends. Imagine him saying his goodbye to his family. Look into the hearts of the wife and kids and other members of the family, as they embrace him to say goodbye—a goodbye that might be their last words to him.
Imagine that you have to say your goodbye like that soldier, what kind of pain do you envisage. Can anyone show more love to this nation, than the brilliant men and women of our Armed Forces, who are combating insurgency to keep the nation safe? I have seen in other nations how whole communities stand still, when the body of a fallen soldier returns home. I have seen where people accost the men in uniform just to say thank you for what they are doing to keep them safe. How people regard their soldiers as heroes. It is very different in our nation. How can we truly repay the men and women who keep the wake, while you go to bed to sleep, and are only remembered when things go wrong? Does it matter to you that some men and women stand all day in the sun and the rain, to direct traffic and reduce accidents on our roads, but are often ignored and remembered for what they do wrong? Who loves you more than the one who has donated an organ to keep you alive? Or gave up on his pleasure to make sure that you have life and education? What of those who have given up on their pleasure and things the world celebrates to care for your soul? Jesus tells us, “This I command you, to love one another.” Let love be the only thing you owe one another.
The love that does not run away from tribulation and that triumphs over death, is what the Lord recommends as true love that his disciples must show forth in their lives. What have you to offer?
Let us pray: Lord give us the courage to embrace the life of sacrifice. Help us to appreciate those who are sacrificing in all and any way to keep us safe. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.