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Sixth Sunday of Easter: We are loved — that is why we love

The allegory of the vine and branches is full of a mysticism alluding to the Eucharist. This is a sacrament where an intimate union with the Lord is celebrated and realised: “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood, live in me, and I in them” (John 6:56). That’s why, before receiving communion, everyone must “examine himself,” to see if he really is determined to remain in the Lord. 
Jesus does not present his love as a role model, but as a life that continues in the disciples or Christians. In baptism, they are inserted in him, becoming his members. So it is he who acts in them. 
Jesus, then, declares: “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.”  It is true, the commandments are many, but they are only clarifications of a single commandment, that which Jesus perfectly practised: love of people. All moral choices, provisions and laws must refer to the good of all because it is the only way we have to show God our love: “How can you love God whom you do not see, if you do not love your brother whom you see?” (1 John 4:20). Who loves the brother or sister has fulfilled all the law: “for the whole Law is summed up in this sentence: ‘You shall love your neighbour as yourself’” (Galatians 5:14; Romans 13:8-10).
The measure of love of neighbour is no longer the one indicated by the Old Testament: as yourself (Leviticus 19:18); but: as I have loved you, and with this expression, Jesus refers to the highest love he has shown on the cross. Remain in him alone who is always willing to “give life” because “there is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends” (v.13) and “Christ loved us and he gave himself up for us” (Ephesians 5:2). His commandment is not intended as a demanding, precise and well-defined law in all the details. It is a life orientation that, in its practical implications, should be determined from moment to moment. 
It requires constant attention to the needs of the brother or sister, imagination, discernment and courage to make decisions even at the risk of making mistakes. 
Jesus does not call his disciples servants but friends. The servant is involved in the master’s project only exteriorly. He is an executor of orders and tasks assigned to him. The friend is instead a confidant. Jesus calls his disciples “friends” because he revealed the plan of the Father to them (v.15). 
He called them to collaborate with him on its realisation. The Christian community is also made up of “friends”. Superior-subject, master-slave, teacher-disciple rapports are therefore excluded. All members enjoy equal dignity. There is no place for one who, instead of serving, aspires to prestigious positions and honours. 
 ● Father Fernando Armellini
 Claretian Publications
Translated by Father John Ladesma SDB
Abridged by Father Jijo Kandamkulathy CMF