Let us not stray from love
John the Evangelist puts into Jesus’ mouth a long farewell discourse in which are collected with a special intensity some basic features that his disciples have to remember through the years in order to be faithful to his person and to his project. They must be remembered today also.
Remain in my love is first. It is not just about living within a religion, but living in the love with which Jesus loves us, the love he receives from the Father. Being Christian is not in the first place a doctrinal matter, but a question of love. Through the centuries, the disciples will know uncertainties, conflicts and difficulties of all kinds of difficulties. What will always be important is not to stray from love.
To remain in Jesus’ love is neither theoretical nor void of content. It consists in keeping his commandments, which he himself immediately sums up in the command of mutual love: This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. We Christians find in our religion many commandments. Their origin, nature and importance are diverse and not of equal worth. With the passage of time, norms multiply. But Jesus says, “This is my commandment,” only in reference to the command to love. In whatever epoch and situation, not to leave mutual love behind is what is decisive for Christianity.
Jesus does not present this commandment of love as a law that must rule our life, making it harder and heavier, but as a source of joy: I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. When true love is lacking among us, a vacuum is created in us that nothing and no one can fill with joy.
Without love it is not possible to take steps toward a Christianity that is more open, friendly, joyful, simple and kind, where we could live as friends of Jesus, as the Gospel puts it. We would not know how to generate joy. Even if we do not want it, we would continue cultivating a sad Christianity, full of complaints, resentments, laments and disgust.
Our Christianity often lacks the joy that comes from doing and living with love. Our following of Jesus lacks the enthusiasm of innovation, and it abounds in the sadness that comes from repeatedly doing things without the conviction that we are reproducing what Jesus expected from us.
May 10, 2015
6 Easter (B)
John 15, 9-17