Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
In his book “Love is a Costly Thing”, Dick Hillis describes a mother he encountered during a trip to Africa: “She was lying on the ground, holding a tiny baby in her arms. I put a cooked sweet potato into her hand; it was all I had. Her strength was almost gone, but her tired eyes acknowledged my gift. Taking a bite, she chewed it carefully. Then, placing her mouth over her baby’s mouth, she forced the soft warm food into the tiny throat. Although she was starving, she used the entire potato to keep her baby alive. Exhausted from her effort, she dropped her head on the ground and closed her eyes. I later learned that during the night the mother’s heart stopped, but her little girl lived.”
Love is costly; it cost that mother her life. Her love was a self-sacrificing love, which mirrored God’s love for us that Jesus speaks about in the Gospel and John writes about in the Second Reading.
God manifests his love for us by gifting us his only beloved Son (second reading).
In the gospel, Jesus tells his disciples that he has loved them as the Father has loved him and gives them the new commandment of love: “love one another as I have loved you.”
That last part is the toughie: “as I have loved you.” How has he loved us?
He loves us gratuitously. The gift of God’s love is just that—a gift, not a prize won, not a reward for service.
He loves us as a friend. Servants work definite hours, and often do things only because they receive an order. Friendship goes go beyond; it entails mutual fidelity and loyalty, it is open-ended.
He loves us totally. Throughout his life, he lovingly served his fellow human beings. He gave his body and blood at the Last Supper and sacrificed his body and blood at Calvary.
For Jesus, love is not a mere liking for another; it is a total self-gift. And he exhorts us to love in the same manner.
Will I love gratuitously, as a friend without counting the cost, and totally?
(By Fr Vinod SDB)