Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; 1Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15: 9-17
The Vine and the Branches
Several years ago, a magazine had published concrete ways on how to say I love You. It was titled as, 101 Ways to Say I Love You. I will mention some of them: Watch the sunset together; Cook for each other; Hold hands; Buy gifts for each other; Hugs are the universal medicine; say ‘I love you’ and mean it; Give random gifts of flowers/roses/candy, etc; Tell her that she’s the only woman you ever want, don’t lie; spend every second possible together; look into each other’s eyes; Put love notes in their pockets when they are not looking; Buy her a ring; sing to each other; Read to each other; PDA (Public Display of Affection); Take her to a dinner and do the dinner for two deal; Dance together; Tell each other your most sacred secrets or fears; Go to church/worship together; Learn from each other and don’t make the same mistake twice; Everyone deserves a second chance; Describe the joy you feel just to be with her; make sacrifices for each other; Dedicate songs to them on the radio; always remember to say, ‘sweet dreams.’
These are some of the suggestions on how to express love concretely for the person we love. Although these are imperfect but at least these have been expressed. Suggestions are especially appropriate for us today. Jesus said in our gospel today, “This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you.” Love, what is it that makes the world go round. The word ‘love’ is very used word. We can hear it even on the lips of children, of idiots, of old people and others. There are many books, magazines, poems, stories, movies and plays being written and performed which tackled this word ‘love.’ stories, movies and plays being written and performed which tackled this word ‘love.’ So many known people So many known people and dignitaries married to a prostitute or a promdi (from the province) because of love. So many women got pregnant because of love. So many heroes and martyrs have died because of love. This word ‘love’ becomes so familiar to us that it becomes useless and extremely becomes unused.
If we study the gospel passage further, we noticed that Jesus used the word love no less than nine times in sixteen lines of His speech. Nowhere in the gospel does the theme of love dominate a text so strongly. His words on love become His last legacy to us. He wanted to make love our supreme value. He even added to give more emphasis on love by saying: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
In the original language of the New Testament (Greek), there are four different words for love. First is sexual love or the sexual drive of the body. This attraction also exists in animals. This is the lowest kind of love. This is completely selfish. Second is the love of friendship. In this kind of love we like people because we feel good at loving them. They are good friends and pleasant company. This love gives us something, so it is a little bit selfish.
The third kind of love is the love between parents and children. It comes closer to real love because it is usually unselfish. The last is selfless love and Greek called this as agape. It is unselfish because this is the kind of love that wants to give without any thought of repayment. This is the ideal love which Jesus talks about in today’s gospel. This is the highest type of love, the love God has for us.
Therefore I would like to propose three things for us to reflect on the statement of Jesus, ‘love one another,’ as suggested also by Bishop Socrates Villegas in his homily book, Jesus in my Heart. First it is a command. It is not an invitation, a request or an option but a command, an order. Being an order, therefore this calls us for total obedience. We are not left with any choice except to follow His command to love one another. It is very easy for us to say, ‘I love you’ to our wife, husband, children, friends and even crushes but it is very difficult for us to say, ‘I love you’ to our enemies. I noticed also that men find it difficult to say, ‘I love you’ to other men. This does not mean also that we are to be blind to errors or sins or live in a state of denial about wrongs committed around us or to us. It simply means we chose to love so much that our love overshadows that hurt those wrongs may have done.
Second, our Lord does say, ‘Love one another.’ He does not say, ‘Love one another when you are both young or when you are both healthy.’ He does not say, ‘Love one another when you are cute or beautiful or handsome or not angry.’ The Lord only said, ‘Love one another.’ Therefore this love is without condition and without limitation.
There was this story about these two little boys who were brothers and went to school for an enrollment. The teacher asked these little brothers about their age and birthdays so she could place them in the registration form. The bolder of the two replied: “We’re both seven. My birthday is April 8 and my brother’s birthday is April 20.” The teacher replied: “But that’s not possible, boys.” The quieter brother spoke up: “No, it’s true. One of us is adopted.”
“Oh!” said the teacher, “Which one is the adopted?” The two brothers looked at each other and smiled. The bolder brother said: “We asked Dad that same question awhile ago but he just looked at us and said he loved us both equally and he couldn’t remember anymore which one of us is adopted.” What a wonderful analogy of God’s love for us. It is a love without condition; it does not discriminate.
Third, our Lord says, ‘Love one another as I have loved you.’ The Lord did not say, ‘Love one another as they love you or as you love yourself.’ Our basis for loving others is not the love we have received from others because this love is imperfect and impure. Our standard for loving others is the love we experience from the Lord Himself. We love others because God loves us.
Today we offer this Mass and let us keep in mind these three thoughts. It is a command to love one another. Love one another without conditions and our model for loving is not the love we see in others but the love of God for us.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle B
See Homily Option