BY: Fr. Mike Lagrimas


HOMILY: Jn 15:12-17

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

The Apostle John said, “If anyone says, ‘I love God,’ but hates his brother, he is a liar; for whoever does not love a brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen. This is the commandment we have from him: whoever loves God must also love his brother” (1Jn 4:20-21).

That is why, we ought not be surprised that Jesus did not say, “This is my commandment: Love God”; or “Love me.” Instead, He said, “This I command you: love one another.” The Apostle John is fully aware of the reason why: “Whoever loves God must also love his brother.” This is the most valid indicator of how authentic our love for God is.

The best proof that the love of God resides in us is when we are able to love others. We can say that the love of Jesus is like a water spring. It constantly and naturally wells up the surface and flows out, filling every river and stream along the way, giving nourishment and life. It cannot remain stagnant. Similarly, if that love does not flow through us to others, it is a sign that it is not the love that comes from Jesus.

This reminds me of a poem about love that I memorized since childhood. It says,
“A bell is not a bell till you ring it; A song is not a song
till you sing it.
The love in your heart is not put there to stay.
Love is not love till you give it away.”

And Jesus goes further. The benchmark of this love is Himself: “…as I have loved you.” The most vivid illustration of this love is the image of Jesus hanging on the cross: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” For, as an American clergyman and political activist, A.J. Muste, said, “Paradoxically, life is worth living for those who have something for which they will gladly give up life.”

Yet, to ‘lay down one’s life’ does not only mean dying for others. It also means living for others. Such is the key to a meaningful life. As Albert Einstein said, “Only a life lived for others is a life worth living.” This is also true even in inanimate matters: “Rivers don’t drink their own waters; trees don’t eat their own fruits. The salt seasons the soup in order to have its purpose fulfilled. Live for others!” (Israelmore Ayivor).

Finally, this love is what determines our relationship with Jesus: “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” To be considered His friends is, indeed, a great blessing and privilege, for Jesus is willing even to die for them if necessary. His friends are those who follow His new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

To show that we love God, it is not enough that we worship and praise Him, that we go to church and attend Mass. The Gospel today teaches us that we have to manifest this love in the way we care for one another, especially those in need. If we really treasure and cherish our friendship with God, we have to love our brothers and sisters. After all, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, “There is nothing on this earth more to be prized than true friendship” – especially our friendship with God.

Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches

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