My Dear People,
In the Shepherd’s discourse, Jesus teaches His relationship with His Disciples involves an intimate, mutual understanding, similar to that between the Father and the Son (10:14-15). Here Jesus teaches about the profound love existing among the Father, Himself, and His disciples: “As the father loves me, so I also love you.” From all eternity, the Father infinitely loves the Son (17:23-24,26), pouring forth all that He is into the Son and teaching Him everything (5:20, 26). Jesus loves His disciples with the same infinite, radically self-giving love: “so I also love you.” He draws his disciples into this unimaginable communion of love between the Father and Son and invites them to remain in this communion of love. As the branches are to “remain” on the vine (15:4-5), the disciples are to remain in communion with Jesus and the Father’s love through loving obedience: “Keep my commandments” (see 14:15, 21, 23). Such trusting, loving obedience perseveres and fosters the disciples’ communion with Jesus because this is Jesus’ own response to the Father as the Son: Just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love.” If His discipleslove and obey Him as He loves and obeys the Father, then they too will share Hi joy--complete, divine joy that comes from knowing the Father and experiencing His love.
The heart of Jesus’ moral teaching is one simple commandment: “love one another as I love you” (see 13:34; Matt 5:43-48; Mark 12:28-34). Jesus loves His disciples with the total self-giving love of God himself. This divine love appears most radiantly on the cross, where the Father gives Jesus for the world’s salvation (3:16) and Jesus lays down His life in an act of perfect love and obedience to the Father (10:17). “For, No greater love than this, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Jesus requires that His disciples practice the same kind of radical, self-giving love. The Disciples love God first, then love for others arises from their encounter with God’s love. John 4:11 nicely summarizes it, “If God so loved us, we also must love one another.” The visible sign of the disciples’ love for Jesus, the sign that they are His friends, is their obedience to his command to love one another.
Jesus elaborates on the love command with a contrast between two kinds of relationships. There is the relationship between a master and his slaves, in which commands are given and obeyed simply on the basis of the master’s authority and backed by force. While Jesus is “master and teacher” (13:14), He does not issue the love command in the context of a master-slave relationship but in the context of friendship. Friends do good things for each other because of the friendly affection between them. The disciples are to love one another because this is what Jesus, their friend, has done for them and asks of them. The friendship between Jesus and his disciples develops because He has given them everything He learned from the Father, and they willingly receive it.
The Disciples soon come to know Jesus is a gift of divine love: “It is not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” Jesus earlier said, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me, draws him” (6:44). The Father works to bring people to believe in Jesus so that they might receive eternal life through Him (6:37-39: 17:6-9). Faith, by which people come to know Jesus, is a free undeserved gift of divine love, which they must receive and embrace.
The fruit that the Father seeks from the vine’s branches is that they love one another. The disciples’ communion with Jesus enables them to produce works of love (15:4-5), and Jesus’ friends are those who, like Jesus, obey the Father’s will in love (15:7-14). Accordingly, disciples who pray to the Father in Jesus’ name pray in communion with Jesus in perfect, loving obedience to the Father’s will. They ask the Father to accomplish His plan in the world and their lives. If they are ready to obey the Father and yield to His will, the Father will honor their request.
[Reflections from Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scriptures]
Yours in Christ,
Fr. Vincent Clemente