The love that comes first

May 10, 2015 – 6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48
1 John 4:7-10
John 15:9-17
Fr Fernando Torres, CMF
Claretian Publications

Today’s gospel goes straight to the heart of the Christian life. It speaks to us about the commandment, the only commandment: that we love one another. Could love be truly a commandment, a law, an order? Can anyone order us to love? In truth, love is something that comes from the inside, not from an order received from someone else. In the army, orders are given and executed. The same happens at work. But no one can order what we should feel for those around us.

That is something different. Jesus knows that is something different. Jesus has experienced the love of God. Moreover, he has experienced that God is love. His presence in our world is the concrete sign of that love of God for each one of us. That love is what gives us life. The love of God created this world and keeps it in existence despite the many abuses we commit against it and against one another.

This is the reason Jesus speaks about the commandment of love. Because God loved us first. Because we are creatures of love. Love, as the second reading tells us, does not spring from ourselves, but from God. God is the origin of love, of that vital spring without which we cannot live. There is no way to place barriers to that love that comes from God. There are no Jews or pagans for God. That is the surprise in reserve for the Jews in the reading of the Acts of the Apostles today. God goes beyond norms and traditions. His love is stronger than any human law. God gives himself to each and every one.

Today’s readings speak to us about the commandment of love. But in reality they invite us to look at the love with which God loves us and cares for us. It is out of that experience that our own love will spring forth; our capacity to love and to give life to those around us. This could be compared with trying to convince someone that not attending Mass on Sundays is a sin. It is far better to invite that person to come to our community, to help that person enjoy the celebration of the Mass with the songs and our community, and the encounter with Jesus. If that happens, he or she is likely to come back. However, if we threaten them with sin and damnation, they are likely to never come back.

Something similar happens with love: no one will love under the threat of a fine or punishment. But they are likely to love if they have felt loved and respected by those around them. Today it belongs to us to make those who live with us know the love with which God loves them. That is what being Christians is all about.

For reflection
-How do you know that God loves me? Why? What concrete and practical signs of that love do you have?
-How can the love you receive from those around you be the best sign of the love of God?
-How do you transmit that love of God to those who are around you?

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