April 29, 2016
St. Catherine of Siena
Jn 15: 12-17
“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.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
I never appreciated the Ten Commandments as a teenager because of their negative “do not” wording. “Do not steal. Do not covet your neighbor’s property.” God seemed authoritarian. I cringed at Psalm 119 which says, “Truly I love your commandments more than gold.” How is this possible? It only makes sense when Jesus reminds us that God’s motive is love. We’re commanded to love. And it’s not coming from an authoritarian God but from a friend, the same one who commanded us to wash one another’s feet and not to exclude the widow or the oppressed. Even Ignatius said God is like a friend.
Can we, like Jesus, become friends with the poor? The sinner? The unwanted? Our own annoying families? Are we willing to lay down our lives for them?
The Christian life commands us to risk loving others. And what a beautiful command that is.
—Andy Otto, originally from Boston, is currently a high school theology teacher for the Diocese of Sacramento. He also runs the Ignatian blog God In All Things.
Lord, you teach me that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for a friend. You command me to love people who are hard to love. This is difficult! Only by your love and your grace can I not only love your commands but live them joyfully. Amen.
Please share the Good Word with your friends!