No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.
Jesus said to his disciples:
‘As the Father has loved me,
so I have loved you.
Remain in my 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.
I have told you this
so that my own joy may be in you
and your joy be complete.
This is my commandment:
love one another,
as I have loved you.
A man can have no greater love
than to lay down his life for his friends.
You are my friends,
if you do what I command you,
I shall not call you servants any more,
because a servant does not know
his master’s business;
I call you friends,
because I have made known to you
everything I have learnt from my Father.
You did not choose me,
no, I chose you;
and I commissioned you
to go out and to bear fruit,
fruit that will last;
and then the Father will give you
anything you ask him in my name.
What I command you
is to love one another.’
In giving his disciples ‘a new commandment’ (Jn 13:34) Jesus encapsulates the essence of the Ten Commandments i.e. a love of God and a love of neighbour. With the simple, yet profound command ‘love one another’ Jesus goes to the heart of what it means to be fully and truly human and he reveals the essence of true Christian discipleship.
There is a vast difference between a true love of our neighbour and the love we have for things. Sadly we live in a society which has become preoccupied with self-satisfaction and self-gratification, a society in which we love things and use people rather than loving people and using things. The righteous heart however is always set on God and others. We are created to be capable of loving as God loves – to choose to love selflessly.
Throughout the Scriptures, God is constantly revealed as abounding in steadfast love, a God of tenderness and compassion, slow to anger and rich in graciousness. God is love (1Jn 4:16) and he has revealed how deeply he loves us by sending his only Son. As the heart of Christ was open in obedient love to the Father, ‘I have kept my Father’s commandments’ so too should our hearts be the same.
Jesus’ love was a sacrificial love; he gave his life to redeem us so that we can share in eternal life. ‘No greater love can a man have for his friends than to lay down his life for them’. He calls each of us to be sacrificial like him, so that we can be a reflection of his love. This call to sacrifice is a call to true Christian discipleship, marked by faithful service, and at times suffering.
In being commissioned as Christian disciples we are called to imitate the love of Christ; a love that is freely given, infinitely patient and denied to no one. Only then can we ‘go out and bear fruit’.
Director: Religious Education and Evangelisation