To remain in God’s love is to share it. JOHN 15:9–17
“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you. Remain in my love.” John 15:9 The invitation in this text to receive the love of God, and the instruction to “remain,” confer on us humans, a dignity that is unfathomable.
In his first encyclical God is love, Pope Benedict XVI states that in Christ Jesus, the incarnate love of God is expressed in its most radical form: His complete self-donation. In sending His Son, God the Father has given Jesus the unique opportunity to display His love for us—the restoration of our original dignity—and in so doing, the Father displays His love for Jesus. Just as the Father loves the Son, so the love of the Lord for us is revealed in His invitation to us, to share in His mission of salvation.
In today’s world, human dignity is compromised in many ways: by political inequality e.g. inequality before the law; by inequality of outcome/result, e.g. income or wealth; by inequality of treatment, e.g. access to life’s chances; by inequality of membership in society, e.g. rights of participation in social life; and by the diminution of personal dignity which we inflict on ourselves by our sin.
Just as Christ was called to offer Himself in sacrifice for our salvation, so the Church is called to be a living sacrifice in the restoration of the dignity of the marginalised; called to the corporal and spiritual works of mercy; called to lay down our lives if necessary.
The recently reported story of the heroic French police officer comes to mind here. On March 23, Colonel Arnaud Beltrame, a recent convert to Catholicism, offered himself in exchange for a female hostage, and was killed in the subsequent exchange of fire between police and the terrorist.
The instruction today is to “remain in my love,” to continue faithfully discharging the mission assigned. But what is the nature of the process in which we engage? Is it mere social action? Not really! Pope Francis says that practising charity is the best way to evangelise. Our objective is to be a friend, make a friend and to bring a friend to Christ. The ultimate objective is to share the love of Christ with the other.
Pope Benedict states: “Being a Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction” (God is Love, #1).
The record in sacred Scriptures of Christ’s post-resurrection encounters with His disciples, gives eloquent evidence to the power of such encounters, for ministry in the Church. Today, as we remain in the love of Jesus, we enjoy the privilege of witnessing the ways in which our own faith has transformed our own lives, and are thus motivated to continue the work.
Ultimately, the hope is that just as Jesus received the reward of His labours, we too, who have engaged this work of the Kingdom, will receive our reward: the beatific vision, the privilege of seeing God face to face.
Loving God, thank you for inviting us to be Your friends. Forgive us for the times when we spurned that friendship or betrayed You by treating You like an enemy. Give us all the graces we need to remain in Your love so that our joy may be complete! And through our deeds and words of kindness, may we bear lasting fruit for the Kingdom. Amen.
The Gospel Meditations for May are by Rev Kenneth & Bernadette Phillips, catechists of St Joseph’s, Scarborough.