The Measure of Love is Love Without Measure!

We have heard that some of our number who went out without mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind. (Acts 15:24)

Some things just don’t change, in particular, the nature of people. Reading through today’s first reading from Acts, I could have been listening to people talk about their problem with rules for living in our world today. I know we don’t particularly like them, but admittedly we wouldn’t be a civilized society without rules/laws/commandments.
In today’s reading we’re at the tail end of the story, where the Gentiles who have become Christians find out they’ll be released from some of the stricter rules and they are “delighted”. Our Faith and Belief that we have in the Church are not things we can touch, hold, and analyze as the world would like to direct us. It is rather based on trust and hope. A trust based upon all that Jesus said and did is from God the Father, and fervent hope that when this life ends we will enjoy eternal life in heaven forever. There are always those in every age who go out of their way, it seems, to “upset” us and “disturb” our peace of mind. Maybe it is done to justify their lifestyle. We must continually remember that Jesus said, in the Gospel of John: “It was not you who chose Me, but I who chose you.” (John 15:16) Therefore, when others try to “disturb” us, we need not worry, but rather truly Love our brothers and sisters, as Jesus would, even as they try to “upset” us, and in Loving them listen to what the Church has to say because it speaks for Jesus Himself! Jesus didn’t come to guarantee us health, wealth, and prosperity. He came to promise us one thing: “I am with you always”. He is with us to guide us, to comfort us, and to encourage us. He has given us his Spirit so that we can stand tall, even when all around us seems to be falling apart. He gives us the same promise he gave to St. Paul: “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is made perfect in weakness”.

In the Gospel, we see Jesus summing up all those commandments which have become ingrained in our being. He said, “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” He simplified it, but it is not so simple to live. Jesus reasoned no one has greater love than to lay down their life for their friend, and He called us and we listened we are friends. He did lay down his life for his friends. Jesus also assures us that he has told us everything he has learned from his Father. He is able to give us his assurance because God, his father and ours, is love. This loving intimacy between Jesus and ourselves comes to us as a divine gift. It is the heart of our faith.

In John 15:13, Jesus said, “Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one’s life for his friends.” The willingness to make the ultimate sacrifice to protect others shows a heart that cares more about the needs of others than the needs of one’s self. Someone once said, “the measure of love is what one is willing to give up for it.” God the Father loved so much that He gave up His Son. Christ loved so much that He gave up His life—even taking our sins on Himself and dying in our place. The Measure of Love is Love Without Measure. When Jesus gave His life, enduring all the agony upon the cross of Calvary, He showed the love of God.

Jesus, speaking to his disciples at the Last Supper, continues to talk about the centrality of love. He expresses it in a central commandment: perhaps surprisingly to some, this commandment is not to love God, or to love Jesus, but to love one another. God does not need to be mentioned because that love is only possible when God is acting in and through us. That is the touchstone of the genuineness of our love for God. And the measure of that love is that of Jesus for us. If that is not clear enough, he spells it out: the greatest possible love a person can have is to sacrifice one’s life for one’s friends. That may mean dying for others but it can also mean living for others; in either case our primary concern is concern for the need of the brother or sister. And it is the only path to demonstrate that we love God and that God’s love is in us.

Finally, he reminds them that they are his followers, because he has chosen them; they have not chosen him. We do not confer any favour on Jesus by following him. We are only answering a call that has already come from him. And the response to that call is to “bear fruit”, lasting fruit. Our lives must be productive, productive in love, in caring, in justice, in compassion, in building up the world of the Kingdom. And we need have no fear. God is with us and everything we need will be given to us to become fruitful. And once again he repeats the core commandment: Love one another.

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