Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another.”
Today’s gospel begins and ends with the same command of Jesus: love one another. Jesus doesn’t mean this to be an option for our lives. It is not something we do if we feel like it, nor it is to be deliberate and intentional. Even in these trying and uncertain times we are still given the commandment to love.
Jesus also makes a crucial appointment. He appoints his disciples—people who love and follow him—and, more important, you and me, “to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. He calls us to a life of service. Jesus said these words just after he had assured his followers that they are his friends. He rejects the word servant because the servant does not know what his master is doing. Instead, he calls them friends because he had already shared with them everything that he had learned from God.
We also hear a great truth in our reading, that we have been chosen by God. I don’t know if we realize the gravity of this gift. We have been graced by the Lord’s choice of us, the Lord’s gift of friendship to us, and we are to respond out of that grace. There are times in our lives when we just need to allow ourselves to experience that gift, to rejoice in his choice of us, to receive the gift of his friendship to us.
Knowing that God has chosen us, loves us, and will use us gives us the courage to face our current challenges and renews our strength to do something about them. Ultimately, we cannot fix, let alone redeem, this world. Truly that’s God’s work. But knowing that God has promised to do so can provide us with the strength and energy to work to make the little corner of the world we live in a better place, a place where God’s love is known. Let us live into that promise today and every day.
Jesus is all the world to me,
And true to Him I’ll be;
Oh, how could I this friend deny,
When He’s so true to me?
Following Him I know I’m right.
He watches o’re me day and night;
Following Him by day and night,
He’s my friend.
(Will Thompson, 1847-1909)
LEVAS II Hymnal