Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Love as I love
In John 15:9-17 Jesus says to his disciples then and now, "Love one another as I have loved you." The quality that distinguishes the love of Jesus is its graciousness. Unearned love is what Jesus offers every human being. Thirty years ago I did a brief summary of Catholic teaching that I titled "Unearned Love." I think it captures the heart of what we believe and do, doctrine and moral.
In commanding me to love this way Jesus doesn't leave me on my own. Since he lives in me, as the parable of the Vine and the Branches stresses, he can share with me his own gracious, freely given, way of loving.
Part of what unearned love involves is Jesus' making the first move, initiating the relationship. He says near the end of this passage, "It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you." This is to be true also in my loving, reaching out, making the first move.
Jesus also makes clear how demanding gracious love is. "No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends." Jesus did it and expects me to love to that extent, to be willling to die for another. It sometimes seems that it is more difficult to live for another. Since this kind of love means caring for the unloveable and unattractive, it can place disgusting demands on me. Again it is Jesus living in me who enables me to touch the leper.