In today’s second reading and gospel, you will hear the word “love” a total of eighteen times! Not for nothing is St John called “the Apostle of Love!”
In the gospel, Jesus “commands” us to love. You can’t command emotions and attractions, but agape love is based not on emotions but is rather a conscious wilful choice to do good for God and others. In its perfection it is selfless, yet it bears the fruit of joy for the one so loving. We often go after joy and happiness as our goal…Jesus would have us know that the greatest joy and happiness do not come from seeking them directly but as by-products of seeking to do good, to make a positive difference, to see others blessed as a result of our efforts.
In the gospel today, Jesus calls us “friends” rather than slaves or servants. In the Old Testament, Moses, Joshua and David were called slaves or servants of God. Only Abraham was called God’s friend. The language gets a bit challenging here, for obedience to commands seems more appropriate in a servant-master relationship than a friendship. If we are going to strive to be like God, however, we are invited into an intimate relationship and made co-workers, not just servants, in the mission.
Who chose who? We do make a choice to follow Jesus, but the image of being chosen by God reminds us that we are invited into a plan bigger than of our own making. Imagine football, baseball or basketball players being chosen in the draft. Before choosing a player, a team has an idea of what position that person will play and how he or she will best fit into the overall plan for the team. I believe that God has a specific role for each of us to play in his eternal plan. The more accurately you and I discern our roles in God’s great plan and strive to live according to that plan, the more God can accomplish through us…and the more we will be filled with the side blessing benefits of greater satisfaction, joy, happiness, and peace in our lives.