Tuesday, May 13, 2014

“As the Father Loves Me...”

Feast of Saint Matthias, Apostle

By Colleen O’Sullivan
Jesus said to his disciples:  “As the Father loves me, so I also love you…  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.”     (John 15:9a, 12-13)

Love consists in sharing
what one has
and what one is
with those one loves.

Love ought to show itself in deeds
more than in words.
(St. Ignatius of Loyola)

I wonder what the disciples are thinking and feeling as they sit with Jesus after their last meal together.  They are uneasy.  Jesus isn’t acting like himself.  He seems pensive and sad.  He gets up from the dinner table and washes their dusty, cracked feet.  Then he says they need to do that for one another.  He talks about one of them betraying him, but who could it be?  Jesus more than once mentions leaving them, preparing a place for them where he is going and sending an Advocate to be with them forever instead.  They don’t want him to go anywhere.  Their heads are spinning with all the words.  Now he is talking to them about love.  As my Father loves me, he says, so I love you.  If there’s any one thing to remember it’s to love each other as I love you.  There is no greater love than laying down your life for another.  The disciples don’t know it, but in less than 24 hours Jesus will literally lay down his life for them and for all of us.  It would probably be quite a while before they would fully realize just how greatly they are loved by Jesus and his Father and what it is Jesus really does for them.  What feels like abandonment as they’re sitting around the table listening will turn out to be the greatest act of love ever.

What about us?  How much time do we ever spend reflecting on God’s love for us?  Are we sometimes like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son, with everything God has to give at hand,  basking in God’s inestimable love, the recipients of gifts beyond telling, and not having the slightest idea how blessed we are?  It is difficult to love others, let alone think of laying down our lives for them, if we go through life with a scarcity mentality.  We are loved beyond measure and, when we realize that, we can love and care for one another out of that abundance.

The Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius end with a contemplation of the love of God: 

I will call back into my memory the gifts I have received – my creation, redemption, and other gifts particular to myself.  I will ponder with deep affection how much God our Lord has done for me, and how much he has given me of what he possesses, and consequently how he, the same Lord, desires to give me even his very self, in accordance with his divine design. (Ignatian Prayer Adventure, Week, 8, Day 5, www.ignatianspirituality.com/ignatian-prayer/the-spiritual-exercises/an-ignatian-prayer-adventure/week-8)

Spend some time thanking God for all that God has given you.

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