All Jesus’ talks, all His miracles, all His parables, come down to what He tells us today.“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”
Think about that. We know, through the doctrine of the trinity, that God and Jesus are one and the same; Father and Son. They share an intimate and infinite love. Here’s Jesus telling us that His love for us is the same. God the Father and God the Son love us as much as they love one another, and themselves.
But, and this is important, If we want to remain in His love, we must keep His commandments. In other words, we can lose His love if we don’t do what He tells us. Then, rather than give us a laundry list of things we have to do, He says, “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.”
That’s it! All we have to do is love one another. But you and I both know that some people are more lovable than others. Sometimes loving one another can be a HUGE challenge. But this love that Jesus asks us to have for each other means a very specific thing. In spite of what the 70’s movie said, love DOES NOT mean never having to say you’re sorry.
According to Father Robert Barron, love means willing good for the other person as another person. In other words, love doesn’t mean hoping that you win the lottery so you can share your winnings with me. Love means hoping you win the lottery only because I want you to be happy. Love also means that I’m not jealous of your good fortune.
Today being Mother’s Day, it’s natural to compare God’s love to a mother’s love. The mother’s love is unconditional, just like God’s love. But there’s one thing missing. On a purely physical level, a baby knows that she has an attachment to her mom. But a baby doesn’t have the intellectual capacity to understand what that means. Dogs and cats relate to their mothers just like we do. Love between a mother and her offspring is a natural thing.
The difference between us and the animals is that as that human baby grows physically and emotionally, she begins to appreciate what this special connection means. But, it’s a slow process. It has it’s ups and downs. I have five grandchildren; three of them from one set of parents. Love means something very different to each one. As they grow and mature, their ability to love will grow and mature. (Until they get to be teenagers, then they’ll likely to hate their parents, but that’s just a phase. They usually grow out of it.) Unfortunately, for many of us, we don’t really appreciate our mom’s love entirely until they’re gone.
I think we approach God’s love in the same way. When we’re little we know that God loves us. How? Because grownups tell us so. I went to Grandparents’ Day this week at my five-year-old grandson’s school. One of the songs they sang was
“I’ve got the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart
Down in my heart to stay
And I’m so happy
So very happy
I’ve got the love of Jesus in my heart
Down in my heart”
Five, six, and seven-year-olds know they love Jesus and that He loves them in a very basic, simple way. As we grow older, we understand more of what that means. Unfortunately, we also make it more complicated. Remember, Jesus calls us to have a child-like faith.
Let’s get back to moms for a minute. Jesus said that no one has greater love than to lay down their lives for their friends. We see that in Jesus as He died on the cross to save us from our sins. But mothers lay down their lives for their children every day. All of you moms can testify that once you gave birth, your life was never the same again. Some changes were small. Some were huge. But nothing is ever the same.
There’s a reason why men don’t have babies. We couldn’t handle it. A mother’s love lets her do the impossible on a daily basis.
Today as we celebrate our moms, and all those women in our lives who fill the role of mothers, it’s good to reflect on what Jesus tells us today. A mother’s love is the closest we humans can come to perfect love. Our mothers’ love teaches us how to love as Jesus loves.
We are our mothers’ flesh and blood the same way we’re Jesus’ flesh and blood. We’re about to celebrate Jesus’ love for us by receiving His actual Body and Blood in the Eucharist. In a real way we celebrate His love and our mothers’ love with every breath we take. When He said “love one another as I have loved you” He was telling us all we need to know. “Honor you father AND your mother” is one of the Ten Comandments.
Jesus spoke these words just before He gave up His life for us. They were some of His last words before the crucifixion. The Gospel ends with Him saying, “This I command you: love one another.” It’s not a suggestion. It’s not something that would be nice for us to do. It’s His commandment. “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”
This monologue is the sum total of everything that Jesus taught in His earthly ministry. This is the message that He wants us to remember. Never forget that the whole point of His becoming a man was to teach us this one thing. And, as we celebrate a day dedicated to our mothers, if we want an example of what that love looks like, all we have to do is think about our mothers’ example. Remember, Jesus’ last act before He gave up His life on the cross was to give us His Mother, the most perfect example of a mother’s love in all human history.
Happy Mothers’ Day!