12 "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.
Meditation: Do you know the friendship of God? One of the special marks of favor shown in the scriptures is to be called the friend of God. Abraham is called the friend of God (Isaiah 41:8). God speaks with Abraham as a man speaks with his friend (Exodus 33:11). Jesus, the Lord and Master, in turn, calls the disciples his friends rather than his servants. What does it mean to be a friend of God? Friendship with God certainly entails a loving relationship which goes beyond mere duty and obedience. Jesus' discourse on friendship and brotherly love echoes the words of Proverbs: A friend loves at all times; and a brother is born for adversity (Proverbs 17:17). The distinctive feature of Jesus' relationship with his disciples was his personal love for them. He loved his own to the end (John 13:1). His love was unconditional and wholly directed to the good of others. His love was also sacrificial. He gave the best he had and all that he had. He gave his very life for those he loved in order to secure for them everlasting life with the Father.
True love is costly. A true lover gives the best he can offer and is willing to sacrifice everything he has for the beloved. God willingly paid the price for our redemption — the sacrifice of his only begotten Son. That's the nature of true friendship and love — the willingness to give all for the beloved. True friends will lay down their lives for each other. Jesus tells us that he is our friend and he loves us whole-heartedly and unconditionally. He wants us to love one another just as he loves us, whole-heartedly and without reserve. His love fills our hearts and transforms our minds and frees us to give ourselves in loving service to others. If we open our hearts to his love and obey his command to love our neighbor, then we will bear much fruit in our lives, fruit that will last for eternity. Do you wish to be fruitful and to abound in the love of God?
"Teach us, good Lord, to serve you as you deserve, to give and not to
count the cost, to fight and not to heed the wounds, to toil and not to
seek for rest, to labor and not to ask for any reward, save that of knowing
that we do your will; through Jesus Christ our Lord."
(Prayer of Ignatius Loyola)