Text: The Holy Gospel According to Saint John 15:9-17
We continue from the text last Sunday, which spoke of the True Vine, Jesus Christ, and the branches. We heard the words of the Gospel speak of our abiding in Christ, remaining in Christ, in vital union with Christ, as a branch remains in its vine.
Now, Jesus speaks to us of the motive of the abiding. It is Love... remaining in Love. Let us hear these words with ears that are attentive to the graces God gives to us.
We will hear their echo later in the simple words of Saint John's little epistle to us all - "God is Love."
9 As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love.
One cannot fully express in human words what all of this means.
One can only wonder at the majesty of their meaning.
One may consider the origins of the Universe and the immensity of the Power, the Eternal God, who created all things out of nothing by the Word of God.
Yes, we could try to express as best as we could from that perspective.
But, try as we may, we could never arrive intellectually to a full understanding of the immensity of this Love of God, the infinitude, the perfection of this Love, the love of the Father for the Son, the "so have I loved you..." No, we could never completely enter into that Holy of Holies where Seraphim dwell in constant awe saying "HOLY... HOLY... HOLY is the Lord God Almighty..."
Try as we may, the Love of God is not comprehensible fully from the perspective of Creation and the Mighty acts of God upon nature. Instead, Jesus simply commands us to do something that will "make us" into a new creation in Christ Jesus -- "As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you; abide in my love."
Just experience what God has done for us and is doing in us - "...abide in my love."
10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father's commandments and abide in his love.
I remember two that distill the whole Law of Moses... to love God with our whole being and to love one another. St. John distills the whole Low in this way.
We have an act of love, beloved -- "O my God, I love you above all things, with my whole heart and soul, because you are all good and worthy of all love. I love my neighbor as myself for the love of you. I forgive all who have injured me, and I ask pardon of all whom I have injured."
We provide for the student of the words of God these word from the 4th chapter of 1st John verses 7 through 21. We are instructed to proclaim this to God's people!
I John 4:7 Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God.
8 He who does not love does not know God; for God is love.
9 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.
10 In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.
11 Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
12 No man has ever seen God; if we love one another, God abides in us and his love is perfected in us.
13 By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his own Spirit.
14 And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Savior of the world.
15 Whoever confesses that Jesus is the Son of God, God abides in him, and he in God.
16 So we know and believe the love God has for us. God is love, and he who abides in love abides in God, and God abides in him.
17 In this is love perfected with us, that we may have confidence for the Day of Judgment, because as he is so are we in this world.
18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and he who fears is not perfected in love.
19 We love, because he first loved us.
20 If any one says, "I love God," and hates his brother, he is a liar; for he who does not love his brother whom he has seen, cannot love God whom he has not seen.
21 And this commandment we have from him, that he who loves God should love his brother also.
God's desire is that we abide in this Love for God and Love for one another.
Jesus said --
11 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
We may hear the words of St. Paul cropping up in our heads, words that he spoke to the Philippian Church, Phil 2?
Let this same mind be in us!
The Example speaks of this...
13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.
14 You are my friends if you do what I command you.
15 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.
How rich this text is for us to hear?
We are no longer called slaves. We are called friends. Why is this? It is because God has revealed to us what he is doing in Christ Jesus!
The Immensity, the Infinitude, the Eternal One, the Logos - became Emmanuel, God with us... humbled himself and became a Servant through the humble handmaiden of the Lord, Mary - so that, he might exalt Mary the second Eve and that we might be presented in Christ Jesus like her, as chaste virgins (cf. II Corinthians 11:1-6)
What man can understand this apart from God's revelation?
What angel could understand it and tell another angel or a man?
Only God could reveal it to us through a humble Mary and Emmanuel, the God who came down as low as to be placed by his loving Mother and foster father in a manger where animals eat of the hay and grain.
God chose us, because God so loved the world!
Jesus said --
16 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.
17 This I command you, to love one another.
Jesus spoke first to the Apostles.
He chose them to proclaim the message and that they should bear their fruits in the hardest of times in the early years of the Church's long history. Yet, it is God who echoes this message right down to the present through the Gospel.
It is for the clergy and the laity! - "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."
Beloved of God, now is the time for us to hear this message and place this in the center of our Catholic reality.
With Mary as our Sanctissima, our supreme example of holy humility, we are called to our vocation, the vocation of Love, the same vocation that St. Therese of Liseaux spoke of and lived out and showers roses upon us from Heaven for our benefit.
It is the message of the latter days, the time when the greatest harvest of souls is coming!
It is the message that we must not only hear with our ears, but place within our hearts, and move out with our feet and hands to do the work of God as the Body of Christ!