If you were going on a long trip, what would you say to your family and friends before you left? If you knew that you were going to see someone for the last time, what would you say to them? When your children moved away from home, what did you say to them? In each case you probably gave them some instructions or words of advice. In today’s Gospel passage from John 15:9-17, Jesus gives such words. This passage is part of the final message that Jesus gave to the disciples the night before He was crucified. It follows the passage about the vine and the branches, but it goes even further. Instead of talking about abiding in Christ or loving each other, it talks about serving each other, which goes hand-in-hand with loving each other.
Jesus knew that the disciples would not find love in the world. He knew that the world would largely hate them and His message. When we love one another, we also allow the Holy Spirit to dwell in us and cause His nature grow in us. How it grows will depend on our connection to each other, to God and to His church. The stronger our faith, the more we will do; and it is the things we do for God and for others that bring glory to God. Love for others means being willing to die for them. Jesus showed his love for us by dying on the cross for our sins. Jesus showed how far that type of love can take someone when he died for us. If Jesus could lay down his own life for us, what part of our lives can we give up for others-prejudice, unwillingness to help, envy, material goods, hatred, unwillingness to forgive, or even something deeper?
God wants us to have relationships that are more than mediocre. Relationship building takes time; it requires compassion, wisdom, empathy, kindness, courtesy and forgiveness. We can’t overlook what taking concrete action can mean. We must be active in love for one another. It is a lot of work, and that’s fine because God knows that we can do this work, and He knows that what we do will enrich both our lives and the lives of those whom we serve. When we love one another, we act as God’s hands and feet to those whom He puts into our lives. It does take time, effort and money to be an active friend, but the blessings outweigh the costs.
Loving others as God loved us is the heart of Christian discipleship. Christian life can only exist through human relationships, especially when they are based on mutual respect and humane value - including love. The apostle Peter showed the same type of love in Acts 10:44-48. His love for others, combined with the visions he and the Roman centurion Cornelius had, led Peter to minister to Cornelius and his family. When Peter proclaimed the Good News, the Holy Spirit moved within his audience, and it marked both a second Pentecost and the spreading of the Good News to all people (not just the Jews). If the Holy Spirit could move in the hearts of Peter’s audience, it can move in the hearts of people in our world today.
God has chosen all of us for the purpose of bearing much eternal fruit in such personal characteristics as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control. These characteristics will grow within us and help us when we tell others about Jesus and lead them into a fruitful relationship with him