· Vatican City ·

Sixth Sunday of Easter: 5 May

God is Love

 God is Love  ING-018
03 May 2024

The Evangelist John, in his First Letter, gives us the gift of the highest, most precise, and most perfect definition of God that has ever been given: God is Love.

In the entire history of humanity and its thought process, no philosopher or poet has ever reached this synthetic and undeniable peak. When humans have tried to say something about God, they have often found interesting, positive and profound formulations, but they are inadequate or incomplete: we, starting from and beginning with ourselves, can only intuit something about God, but in the end, human language is always insufficient.

John, a young fisherman from Galilee, how could he intuit such a perfect and ingenious definition that it is now obvious to everyone? And why has no one before him, not even amongst the greatest and most learned in history, managed to reach this summit?

John is the only one of the Twelve who contemplated with his own eyes Jesus nailed to the Cross. In fact, it is not a brilliant intuition of John’s, but a true and proper revelation, a Divine Inspiration: because only God can truly say who and what God really was, is and will be.

In the Upper Room, John laid his head on Jesus’ chest, as if in the act of listening to His very heart, of entering into perfect harmony with his thoughts and feelings. At the foot of the Cross, John listened to the Incarnate Word of God pronounce His last words, the Truth: words of radical entrustment to the Father, of total self-giving of His own and to His own, words full of forgiveness and hope, of absolute newness and eternal life.

The Cross was the true school of theology for St. John and the Crucified Jesus, the only Master: bestowing upon us so willingly and freely the full revelation of the Mystery of God.

What was clear and limpid to John, in that hour of darkness on Calvary, is unfortunately no longer so evident to us today. The term Love today is one of the most used and abused terms: if we are not vigilant, without realizing it, the precious word love can become so banal that it loses its true meaning and is so often confused with like.

In the texts of today’s Liturgy, we have some essential coordinates for understanding what love really is.

Greater love hath no man than this: to lay down his life for his friends.

Jesus spoke these precious words: “No one has a greater love than this: to give his life for his friends“, during the Last Supper, at a dramatic and supreme moment in His life and in His relationship with His friends who were about to betray Him, deny Him, abandon Him; and yet He, on the other hand, for them, was going to meet His death, the consequence of an unjust condemnation, but also the fruit of His perfect and abiding Love.

Moreover, Jesus says to his disciples: Abide in my love! Not just any kind of love, not just a love that is simply emotional, sentimental, or passionate. which may be transient and deceptive. Abide in my love. Indeed, with my own free, conscious, and radical choice to make my life a gift: through the stripping of myself and my defenses; by a docile and recrimination-free surrender; with the firm will to base my choice on what remains for eternal life and overcomes the transience of emotions.

So, the big question is this: what is the sure way to remain in the love of Jesus? Quite simply: keep His commandments! Jesus Himself, in fact, lived His life as a life of love, because He remained in the love of the Father, obeying His will. Obedience defined the life of the Son. Obedience is what outlines the true identity of Jesus’ disciple and friend.

Is it perhaps an excessive demand that Jesus made of His friends on the last evening of His earthly life: “No one has a greater love than this: to give his life for his friends“, and that He addresses to us today, through sacramental listening to the Gospel? No, it is not a statement, but a gift:

I have spoken these things to you so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be full.

Is it possible to find someone more trustworthy, someone who deserves our attention and obedience more than Jesus who has no other desire than the fullness of our joy?

So, a question arises: today it is fashionable to say, “love is love”, to justify every attitude, relationship, and lifestyle, but do I know exactly what love is? Can I be satisfied with a reductive and deceptive understanding of love?

Let us allow ourselves to be educated by Jesus, scholars all in His school of true and everlasting love!

*  Custody of the Holy Land

By Fr Luke Gregory ofm