May 14, 2015
Thursday, 6th Week of Easter
St. Matthias, Apostle
1st Reading: Acts 1:15–17, 20–26
Gospel: Jn 15:9–17
Jesus said to his disciples, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love. You will remain in my love if you keep my commandments, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
“I have told you all this, that my own joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you. There is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for one’s friends; and you are my friends if you do what I command you.
“I shall not call you servants any more, because servants do not know what their master is about. Instead I have called you friends, since I have made known to you everything I learned from my Father.
“You did not choose me; it was I who chose you and sent you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last. And everything you ask the Father in my name, he will give you. “This is my command, that you love one another.”
(Daily Gospel in the Assimilated Life Experience)
People in Portugal say ‘obrigado’ for ‘thank you’. How strange that gratitude in that part of the country should sound so similar to the English “obligation”. Gratitude, being the language of love, should not come any closer to the concept of obligation. If one follows this line of thinking today’s Gospel comes as a surprise. Jesus said, “This is my commandment: love one another…” (John 15:12). How could Jesus have raised love to the level of a commandment?
This is an issue central to “Deus Caritas Est”, the first encyclical written by Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI. He explains: “Love is not a commandment but ‘a sweet response when we reflect on the fact that it was God who first loved us (1 John 4:10)’”. Thus, although Jesus gave love as a commandment, we embrace it not as an obligation but as expression of gratitude to the God who loved us first. It is consistent with the classic maxim “amor con amor se paga”. Love deserves no less than love for its recompense.
Our gratitude to God seeks to do more than just loving Him directly. It leaves no stone unturned until all avenues where God can be loved are explored. Since Jesus has manifested his desire to take it personally what a person does to his fellowmen (Matt. 25:40), the person grateful to God wouldn’t mind loving even the most unlovable. This teaching finds ample support in the Bible. In the First Letter of John, for example, we read that anyone who does not love his brother whom he has seen cannot love God whom he has not seen” (1 John 4:20).
A person who is grateful to God will not look at loving the neighbor as an obligation. Not even a Portuguese saying “obrigado” to God would feel obliged to love his fellowmen. He’d embrace the other in a free and spontaneous act of gratitude to the God who had loved humanity first. – Rev. Fr. Dan Domingo P. delos Angeles, Jr., DM. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org. Website: http://www.frdan.org.
PRAYER FOR THE DAY: God our Father, send us your Spirit to be the fire that sustains us in loving one another. Grant this through Christ our Lord. Amen.
SAINT OF THE DAY: St. Matthias, Apostle. He was Jesus’ disciple from the day of His baptism until his ascension into heaven. He was the one who substituted Judas in the ranks of the twelve apostles. He preached from Judea to the Caspian Sea. He was remarkable for his insistence on the necessity of mortifying the flesh. After enduring persecution from the savage people he evangelized, he suffered martyrdom at Colchis.