Last night, we had prayers for my Mama Andang’s twentieth death anniversary over Zoom. I called her Mama since when I was still a young boy, imitating how my Mom (her eldest child), aunts and uncles addressed her. She became a widow with seven children in all, and Mom still in her teens. She didn’t shy away from the responsibility of raising them up and was an epitome of strength, wisdom, and love. I can’t imagine how I am today without her strong influence in my life, having been under her care when Mom and Dad were off to work. She instilled moral and ethical values to all her children and grandchildren.
As the prayers format for Mama Andang call for the day’s Gospel, we chose today’s reading (Jn. 15: 9-17) which proclaims about what love is all about. Note that this particular chapter of St. John’s Gospel narrates the discourse of the Lord at the Last Supper. In these verses, Jesus proclaims,
“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
It’s not a suggestion, but a command. In fact, Fr. Armand Robleza, SDB, shared that in Greek, there is a translation that says, “Love one another because I love you.” Thus, if we claim to be followers of Christ, we have to obey this commandment. In fact, Jesus reiterated it again at the end of the Gospel,
“This I command you: love one another.”
It is not for naught as obedience to this command comes the reward of remaining in God’s love,
“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.”
Fr. Armand further explained that during the Last Supper, the Lord “was trying to make sure that the disciples will carry on His mission.” In a short while, He will be taken away from them and without them showing and imitating His love, their company and the young Church won’t last very long. As the Gospel emphasizes, love isn’t just a feeling, but a choice. If we say we love a person, we need to commit ourselves to him or her, to the point of giving up one’s life. It may not necessarily mean death, as it also means putting the needs of others first before our own. This requires sacrifice and selflessness.
The point of all this is that when we obey God’s commandment of loving one another, we become bearers of God’s love to others. It’s all about bringing God’s love for His people. And the ultimate reward is this,
“You are my friends if you do what I command you.”
Friendship with Jesus is the most important thing we can ever achieve in this life. When we meet Him someday, He will not be asking us about our careers, the promotions and upgrades that we had, our salaries, our wealth, our positions in society, but He will ask us “Did you truly love others in the same way that I love you”?
During this pandemic, the times are such that many are experiencing depression making it “difficult to love” others. Mahirap magmahal ngayon, as they say. But given the presence of God in our lives, we can do it. Yes, with Jesus, “we can love!”, to quote Fr. Armand in his homily today.
Today, reflect on how well you’ve loved others “even until it hurts”. Did you give up your own, in favor of others’ needs?
Dear Lord, help me to show love for others, that in doing so I will be able to discover Your great love for us. Amen.
“Whoever loves me will keep my word, says the Lord, and my Father will love him and we will come to him.” (Jn. 14:23)