Abiding in Jesus' Love
Today's Gospel, in a sense, is a prelude to tomorrow's Gospel in which Christ calls us his friends; it sets love as the foundation of friendship. Fr Herbert McCabe OP in the book 'God, Christ and Us' offers a reflection on love, friendship and holiness, all of which have their source and origin in God and which are offered to us if we remain in the love that is Friendship with Christ:
"Jesus tells us that his Father, the one who sent him into the world, the one who laid commands upon him, gave him a mission to fulfil (cf John 8:18). This Father is doing all this in order that there shall be friendship between Jesus and his disciples, just as there is friendship between the Father and Jesus. The aim is that, just as there is one life shared by the Father and Jesus, so there shall be one life shared by Jesus and his followers. Then there will be one life, the same life, shared between the disciples themselves. The Father's command to Jesus is: 'Be in the world and love your fellow men and women.' In his turn Jesus's command to us is that we in the same way love each other (cf John 13:34).
So what we hear of Jesus is first of all that he is loved by the Father. And that means that Jesus is a saint. For this is what a saint is: a human being with whom God is in love, with whom God shares his own divine life. What we call grace, or holiness, or godliness is just what it is to be loved by God, to share in divinity. And Jesus is the first saint - not the first saint in history, of course, but the first in the sense that all other saints have their godliness from him. As John says at the very beginning of his gospel: 'the Word became flesh and lived among us... From his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.' (John 1:14-16). Our grace comes from Christ's grace. We are loved by God because Christ is loved by God.
So sanctity is a matter of being loved. And what are we commanded to do, as Jesus is commanded to do, is to abide in this friendship.
What is it to abide in friendship? It is to treat friendship as more important than anything else. We are not abiding in friendship if we prefer something else, if we opt for anything else, even life itself, at the expense of unity with our friend. That is why Jesus goes on to say: 'No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends' (John 15:13). Friendship is finding the sharing of life more important than carrying on the individual life. This is what Jesus is saying on the cross: 'It is better to die, sharing the last of my life with the Father, than to make my life a little longer in separation from his life.' This is his obedience to the demands of friendship, friendship with the Father.
Friendship is always with. It is always reciprocal. When Jesus consummates his friendship with the Father in his death on the cross, the Father reciprocates. And his love for this man Jesus not only brings Jesus from death to a new kind of life but brings all those whom Jesus loves to share in that resurrection and new life. So long, of course, as we abide in Jesus's love; so long as we do not value anything else at all more than his love."
The stained glass image above is from the novices' chapel in Caleruega and depicts Blessed Mannes OP, brother of St Dominic.