In today’s Gospel, Jesus goes on specifying what He means by love. For Him, love is a free gift, a generous donation. Giving life implies an inner detachment, unlimited generosity, and total solidarity.
This love has been the experience of many men and women of history that we call saints and martyrs. Some of them gave their lives for love. Some of them spent it day by day in serving among the sick, poor, marginalized and exploited, or those persecuted for faith or justice. Others have shared their blood for the cause of the Kingdom of God. They died for the defense of the sacred gift of life of those who are most vulnerable, for the promotion of human rights, and even for the defense of creation and ecology. They all understood what it means to love in the style of the Master, Jesus Christ. That is the reason why they are His true friends.
In the first reading we see how the early Christians realized that their call was to be modeled not on the concept that they were the know-it-alls of the faith and had authority to force others to do what they wanted. Rather, they understood that they were called to love one another, and not by burdening others with laws that they themselves could not keep; however, by being willing to lay down their lives for the sake of others. Unconditional love is what Jesus called them to use in making all decisions. If they openly discussed, prayed, and asked for the guidance of the Holy Spirit, they would be led to do the most loving thing for those with whom they were called to be friends and whom they were called to serve.
Today’s readings are challenging us to examine what is the driving force in our relationship with others. How do I experience the guidance of the Holy Spirit in my life? What is the guiding principle behind my decisions? Is it the unconditional love I have for others, my willingness to lay down my life for another or is it for selfish pursuits? Do I know in our community, social or ecclesial environment people who have loved as Jesus asked? Am I willing to love until the last consequences as the Master teaches? How do I experience the friendship of Jesus?