Acts 10:44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5:1-6; John 15:9-17
“Love and do what you will.” – Augustine of Hippo
This is what it all comes down to – love. The bottom line is not what we believe, as if Christianity were about creeds. It is not even whether or not we believe in love. It is about actually loving. In today’s Gospel Jesus speaks of “commandments.” (John 15:10) What!? Where’s the list? We can look all through the New Testament, and we find Jesus only giving one single commandment: that we love one another (John 15:12). He said that even the Ten Commandments come down to, are summarized, in love (Matthew 22:36-39). He was more of a Beatitudes sort of guy. He tells us to love one another as he loved us (John 15:12). Then he goes on to talk about how he loved us: by laying down his life for us (John 15:13). That’s how we are to love one another. Whenever we do for others we lay down something of ourselves. When we visit the sick, we lay down something of ourselves. When we refuse to bully (adults do that too, you know), and stand up to those who do, we lay down something of ourselves. When we befriend those whom others shun, we lay down something of ourselves. When we share of our own short supply of food with those who are hungry, we lay down something of ourselves. We lay down our lives. We put our lives on the line. We love. This is not always easy. Love is not always a warm fuzzy feeling. Love is a decision we make every day when we get out of bed. The decision needs to be renewed every day because feelings come and go. Augustine’s advice to love and then do what we want is not permission for licentiousness. What he means is that when we decide to love, our intentions will always be for the welfare of the other. We do this freely, not as slaves. (see Greek below) The paradox is that while we are not selfishly looking out for ourselves, we nevertheless become enriched.
In John 15:15 Jesus says that he no longer calls us “servants.” However, the Greek word is “slave.” Certainly slaves were servants. But the word here is “slave.” The New American Bible (Catholic) got this one right. Jesus says he now calls us friends. That’s quite a contrast from slaves.
The sun rose today,
warming out chilly bodies.
A love decision.