In today’s Gospel Our Lord commands us to love one another. Pope Benedict XVI in his encyclical Deus Caritas Est asked how it was possible that love could be commanded (n.14). Love is one of the freest acts the human person can perform: someone can be very ingratiating to us, but love always requires that moment where we give our “yes,”that inner movement of our heart and will that seeks the good of the beloved because he or she is beloved. The Holy Father’s answer to the question was simple: “Love can be ‘commanded’ because it has first been given.”
Jesus reminds us today that love for him is connected with love for others. We can’t claim either love if we deny one of them. This is the calling card of every sincere Christian. We have been loved by God, who loves each and every person, past, present, and future, sinner or saint, to the point of dying for them on the Cross. If he is willing to go the distance for every soul, it shouldn’t be hard for us to see the need to show our love for him by trying to love others.
If there’s anyone today you consider “off-limits” to your love, either because they’ve hurt you or because you can’t see a way to love them, contemplate Our Lord on the Cross and ask him to help you see the path to loving that person. If you don’t do it for yourself at first, do it for him.
Readings: Acts 15:22–31; Psalm 57:8–10, 12; John 15:12–17.