So many phrases in today's Gospel claim our attention and seem to cry out for profound and prolonged meditation.
- remain in my love
- my own joy may be in you
- you are my friends
- you did not choose me
- I commissioned you
There are many more, and meandering through their midst like a crystal clear brook, is the recurring theme of love issuing from the Father and returning to him.
- as the Father has loved me
- so I have loved you
- so you must love one another
Last week this dynamic was metaphorically expressed in the life which passes through the vine to the branches. The fruit borne by the branches is the fruit of the vine. This needs to be emphasised. It is not as though the fruit we bear as branches is our fruit because we, the branches, belong entirely to the vine. So the fruit we bear belongs entirely to the vine, and the vine is Christ. What a privilege! And even more so in that the fruit we bear is to the glory of the Father - because it is Christ's fruit.
So it is with the love with which we love one another; it is the love of the Father which comes to us in Christ. Think about it. There is only one true love which issues from on high, from the heart of the Father. It is bestowed upon the Son, Jesus, from all eternity, and through him and in him, is given to us. As there is only one life in the vine so there is only one love in God who offers it to us, his children. When this love 'bears fruit' in us, when we 'love one another' it is always to the glory of the Father and returns to him, because it is 'His' love.
Perhaps we can sense more clearly what Jesus meant when he said things like ... remain in me .. abide in me .. make your home in me .. and my Father will love you and we will come to you and make our home in you .. .
The yearning of Jesus' heart is that all men share in the unity, the oneness with God, in which he lives: that all may be one .. that his joy may be in us .. that where he is we may be too.
Some of the great saints have experienced, in varying degrees, this unity with God, and even as they acknowledge their inability to put this experience into words we glimpse its awesomeness.
Unity with God is our destiny; it is the whole purpose of our lives; it is the fulfilment of all our yearnings. It is achieved, and can only be achieved, when we 'love one another' with the love with which our Saviour has loved us, the very love of the Father.
It seems to me there is little need to point out how necessary it now becomes that we should understand this love. Yes, God loved the world so much that he gave his only Son ... (Jn 3:16). In his turn Jesus gave himself entirely to us. His passion, death and resurrection is the clearest and most profound expression of his self-giving love for us: A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends (Jn 15:13).
That is how we are called to love one another; that is how we give glory to the Father; that is how we enter into union with God; that is how we find true peace and happiness.