12 May 2012


6th Sunday of Easter
Jn 15:9-17 (Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 / Ps 98 / 1 Jn 4:7-10)

Is there anyone here who does not have a friend?  I guess, none.  In fact, most if not all of you have many friends.

Can anyone really live without friends?  I think, no.  Some even have their lives centered on their friends.

Should anyone take their friends for granted?  I believe, not.  Some people are closer to their friends than to their own parents and siblings.

Normal people value friendships.  The smart ones choose their friends wisely.  While the saying “Tell me who your friends are and I will tell you who you are” is not always correct, it still has a kernel of truth in it.  In life we may meet people accidentally, but they become our friends by choice – theirs and ours.  There are no accidental friends.  And because we are what we choose, we are, in a way, what our friends are.  We value the choices we make.  We value our friendships.

In the Gospel today, Jesus makes a choice.  He calls us friends, not slaves, He said.  The truth is, Jesus does not only call us friends, He does truly treat us as friends.  He loves us as His own.  He Himself is the epitome of His teaching, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  He offered His life for us not only by dying for us but by rising again to life for us.  While a local hero, Ninoy Aquino, once said that the Filipino is worth dying for, by His resurrection Jesus tells us all that we are also worth rising for.  We are His friends and this is His choice.  His choice.

“It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you,” Jesus said.  He takes the initiative to befriend us, to love us, to value us.  What is our response?  Do we choose Jesus?  Are we really His friends?  How much do we value Him in our life?  Do we truly love Jesus?  If we do love Jesus, Jesus Himself gives the criterion to measure the truth of our claim: “If you keep My commandments, you will remain in My love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.”  Is that not clear enough?  The proof that we love Jesus is in our obedience to what He commands us to do.  And what does He command us to do?  “This is my commandment,” Jesus said, “love one another as I love you.”

Many hopeless romantic say that loving entails sacrifice.  They are correct.  But for one who truly loves the sacrifice that love entails is not suffering at all.  Love for the beloved is a sweet yoke.  We do not mind enduring difficulties for people we love.

But who are the people we love?  Are they the people closest to us only?  Are they the people who are easy and gratifying for us to love only?  If we love the lovable, the grateful, the beautiful, the appreciative, the good, the loving only, then that is not the kind of love that Jesus commands us to have.

“Love one another,” Jesus said, “as I love you.”  Unfortunately, many people focus only on the first part of this command: “Love one another.”  But loving one another is not complete.  Jesus said, “as I love you.”  The basis of our loving one another is the love of Jesus for us.  We ought to love as Jesus loves us.  We must love like Jesus.  And how does Jesus loves us?

"As the Father loves Me, so I also love you,” Jesus said.  Can you imagine that?  Jesus loves us as the Father loves Him!  And how does the Father love Jesus?  We cannot fully express in our human language the Father’s love for Jesus.  We can only say that the Father loves Jesus infinitely in all aspects of that love.  While we do know that the Father loves Jesus, what we do know about their loving relationship is infinitely smaller than a speck of dust.  We cannot fully grasp the Father’s love for Jesus and Jesus love for the Father.  Now, Jesus is telling us again, “That’s exactly how much I love you.”  Imagine that?  No, we can’t, for our minds will explode and our heart will burst.  Instead of imagining, better that we strive to obey Jesus’ command that we love one another as He loves us.  Of course, that sounds very ideal, but that is what ideals are for – guiding principle against which we measure our selves and providing direction in our lives.  Despite failures, we must keep on striving to love as Jesus loves.

We may search from the readings today some guidelines how to love as Jesus loves.  The first reading declares the impartiality of God.  God accepts whoever accepts Him, and accepting God means living according to His ways.  This truth challenges us to be impartial with our loving, too.  Our love should be inclusive, never exclusive.  Just as God makes the sun rise and the rain fall on both the good and the bad (Cf Mt 5:45) so should we show kindness to all regardless of who they are.  When Jesus admonished us to be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect (Cf Mt 5:48), He was certainly emphasizing the impartiality of God.  God is for all and so should our love be for every man and woman.

The Psalm we both read and prayed today celebrates the love of God as His power revealed to the nations through His deeds of justice, kindness, and faithfulness.  Is that the same kind of love we have for others?  Is our love powerful, and does its power effect justice, kindness, and faithfulness in the lives of others?  But to love like Jesus means more than just being just and kind and faithful to others.  One who truly loves as Jesus loves is restless in the face of injustice, unkindness, and infidelity so much so that he or she struggles with the victims of these oppressive situations for the establishment of the righteousness of God’s kingdom even here on earth.  Loving as Jesus loves shuns all forms of indifference and proclaims the saving power of God by words and deeds.

In the second reading today, John, among other things, writes about God’s initiative in loving us.  God loves us not because we love Him.  Rather, “in this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins,” says John.  God took the first step in our loving relationship with Him.  He did not wait for us to love Him before He loved us.  Moreover, He continued loving us even after we have sinned and even gave us His Son to redeem us from our sins.  He continues loving us and will do so for all eternity.  Such should be the pattern of our love for one another!  We are challenged to take the first step in loving, to initiate loving relationships with others, and to continue loving them despite the hurts, the betrayals, the failures they cause us.  But do we not most often wait to be loved first before we love?  Do we not make it a condition to our loving the other the loving that the other gives us?  And when our love is betrayed, many of us, intentionally or otherwise even tend to love less.  We say, “Nakakadala nang mahalin ‘yan!

Jesus could have chosen otherwise; but, no, He chose us to be His friends.  We are valuable to Him.  He loves us as much as His Father loves Him.  He even wants us to call and consider His Father our Father.  After all, while blood makes us brothers, it is the heart that makes us friends.  Jesus has that heart for us.  But do we have that heart for Jesus?          


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