The gospel readings of each Sunday are a central part of the nourishment given in the liturgy which sets us up for the week ahead. Too often the gospel is not heard or remembered and we are the poorer for it as we face the challenges of the week.
So let’s take a moment on this Monday morning, the beginning of a new work and study week, to recall the food for faith we received in yesterday’s Gospel.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you servants,
because a servant does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
I have preached on this passage dozens of times, but every time I see something new. Yesterday it was the centrality of love. I remember Thomas More’s great line in the Robert Bolt play A Man for All Seasons “Finally it’s not a matter of reason, its a matter of love.”
I invited the parishioners of Lincoln and Leeston yesterday to imagine that there was an entry question to heaven…what would it be?
I shared my own thought that if there is a question that Jesus asks it would be “did you love?”
And there’s a couple of other key points in this passage.
Before Jesus in every culture the accepted understanding was that humans were the servants of God. Jesus tells us something radically new: “I no longer call you servants, I call you friends.”
And another key inspiration: We often think that we choose to follow Jesus. But Jesus puts a radical new twist on this understanding: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” My decision to live each day with Jesus is just a response to His choice of me.
Take time as you work, walk, drive, rest, etc today to consider how it feels for you to realise that you have been chosen by Jesus not to be his servant but to be his friend.