Today’s Gospel reading follows right after and develops last Sunday’s Gospel on the vine and the branches.
It gives the way in which the branches can receive life from the vine and in which the branches can remain alive, grow and be fruitful: that is, to remain in Jesus’ love.
Jesus’ unique command is that we love one another as he has loved us. He knows he had to remind us of this, because sometimes we act as though we were made for competition rather than love. Jesus has given us the example of a love greater than any other: He laid down his life for us. He calls all of us for whom he died friends.
John tells us that love has its origins in God, and so he makes one of the greatest statements about God in the whole bible: “God is love”. This is the one and only place that this amazing statement is made in the whole of the New Testament. That statement, though not a complete definition of God, is a beautiful description of Him with relation to human beings. It answers many questions.
It explains creation: Why did God create our world, many aspects of which we have caused to wind up in a mess? If we found the complete answer to the question of why it is that we and the Universe exist – it would be quite something – for then we would know the mind of God. But we do have insights into an answer.
It’s because God is love. It helps us to understand free will: God who gave us this most precious faculty, doesn’t take it away, even when we use it against Him.
God is love.
It gives us an appreciation of divine providence. Had God been only intelligence or law and order, He would have created the world and left it to its own laws and decrees.
But God is love.
It helps us understand redemption: Had God been only justice, He might have left the human race to its sin.
But God is love.
And it puts into perspective the world beyond the grave: Had God been simply creation with a lesser love, He might have left people to die and remain dead forever.
But God is love!
The chief way God revealed His love to us though is not by having brought about creation, or giving us free will, or establishing His providence over us, or accomplishing our redemption, or providing a world beyond the grave – but by sending His only son into the world.
And He did that in order that through His Son we might have life. His coming made more possible a differentiation between full life and mere existence. All our love-life originates with Him. He has given His love freely. His sending His Son was an act of mercy and forgiveness, shown finally through His Son’s death.
God is love!
Because God is love, love should characterise God’s human family. God’s love is the why and how of our love for one another. It’s love that gives wings to our freedom. To enrich the lives of our relatives and friends as well as our own, we as children of the Father must express His kind of love: a love that is serving, seeking the welfare of others, and being a channel of God’s grace in the world.
Let’s ask God to help us to express in our lives the love we celebrate.