Jesus said to his disciples: ‚ÄúAs the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father‚Äôs commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one‚Äôs life for one‚Äôs friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
‚ÄĒJohn 15: 9‚Äď17
During our high school years, our female classmates would usually have a ‚Äúslumbook‚ÄĚ and would ask their close friends to fill up a specific page assigned to the invited ‚Äúfriend.‚ÄĚ The end part of it is the famous series of questions: ‚Äúdefine love,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúdescribe your crush,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúwhat is love,‚ÄĚ ‚Äúhave you been in love?‚ÄĚ ‚Äúwho is your crush?‚ÄĚ Giggling and teasing usually happens next. And then follows a parade of ‚Äúlove‚ÄĚ definitions supposed to be experienced by the person, or remembered by the concerned.
Love is defined and understood in many ways; it may be a line from a popular song or a quotation that is so common, which is easily available to recall. ‚ÄúTo love God‚ÄĚ is also an all time favorite. To love your neighbor? Hmm‚Ä¶not so much. These phrases are only heard and said during religion classes, or when we go to church for Holy Mass and hear those lines from priests. To love God and to love your neighbor are connected and inseparable, these two invitations are only one. The thought of loving God is concretized when one loves his/ her neighbor. In fact, if you want to find yourself, try to look for the others first and you will find God in them and eventually found yourself.
When we love others, we find ourselves. We just don‚Äôt define love and make others believe. Love has to be felt and experienced by all concerned‚ÄĒthe lover and the beloved. Love is real and concrete, it is not absurd and an illusion when done and lived.
When we decide to love, we must be willing to give and to share oneself for our neighbor. To love is not to keep for oneself, it is always towards an outward direction. The movement of ‚Äúgiving‚ÄĚ and ‚Äúreceiving‚ÄĚ is the dynamics of love‚ÄĒto love and be loved.
The love of God is beyond compare. It is the greatest gift that we received and now enjoy. The greatest love of all is not what the song says: ‚Äúlearning to love yourself is the greatest love of all.‚ÄĚ That is not even a great thing to do. The greatest love is when one is willing to lay down his/ her life for a friend or for someone, not necessarily a loved one. Like Jesus who was willing to give his life for us, even if he did nothing wrong. This concrete expression of the love of Jesus is indeed the greatest.
Loving therefore is offering oneself for others. As God has loved us, we are invited then and commanded to love in return so that we will bear much fruit, charming fruits to be shared and celebrated.
St. John of the Cross had said: ‚ÄúGod has loved us first, that is why we are able to love.‚ÄĚ Since God is love, we receive the tender love of God. And we are able to love and be loved. If we want remain in God, we must love one another. The Lord is commanding us to love one another as he loved us. And if we want and wish to remain with God, we must love. And when we love to its fullest, we remain in Him and we will be whole, complete, full.
Recently, a friend texted me this message ‚ÄúDon‚Äôt let the world set standards for love. Let His WORD define how you will love. It‚Äôs easy to conform to the world, but it takes to be a warrior to conquer many. Dare to be different.‚ÄĚ
To be different in loving? We love not because people love us in return. When we follow the Word of God, it love without terms and conditions, without biases, without prejudices; for love is encompassing and transforming. For love changes everything.
When we keep God‚Äôs commandment to love then we will never falter. When we live in love, then it would make our world a better place to live in. The famous Fr. Pedro Arrupe, SJ, exhorted: ‚ÄúFall in love, stay in love, and it will decide everything.‚ÄĚ When we love one another then we can stay and remain in the love of God.
Let us pause and ask ourselves:
Am I whole and complete? Do I remain in God and keep His commandments?
Do I love others? Do I allow myself to be loved by others?
Am I willing to lay my life for a friend or for someone?
Am I bearing fruit and sharing it with others in love?
Prayer: Lord of life, thank you for loving us dearly. Teach us how to love and lead us to the way of love. Where there is hatred, violence and indifference among people in the world, let me become your instrument of love. Inspire us and make us your channels of love so that the Holy Trinity of Love may blessed us all the days of our lives. Amen.