We have a beautiful Gospel passage for our reflection today. It’s taken from the Last Supper discourses of Jesus, specifically, the conclusion of the discourse that begins, “I am the Vine.” It will be helpful to our reflection to review the sequence of events at the Last Supper as John related them.
The day before the Passover Jesus gathers his disciples for a very special meal. They aren’t simply sitting around together; they’re reclining on couches around the central table. He suddenly disrupts the formality of the supper by assuming the role of a domestic slave. He takes off his outer garment, his suit jacket if you will, and washes their feet. It’s a prophetic act. He wants them to model themselves on this action of his. He tells them, “You call me teacher and master, and rightly so, for indeed I am. If I, therefore, your teacher and master, have washed your feet, you ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Jesus then reveals to them that one of them is going to betray him. They’re all still wondering aloud whom it might be when Jesus comments to Judas, “What you are going to do, do quickly.” Judas rises from the table and hurries out into the darkness of the night.
With Judas gone, divine light floods the room. Jesus opens his heart to them. “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” He then delivers the central message of these final discourses. “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” An incredible moment follows.
Peter immediately responds to this call to love by telling Jesus that he is willing to lay down his life for him. But Jesus knows, “the cock will not crow before you deny me three times.” In a few hours Peter will enter the crucible of his own passion, a heart-wrenching inner passion of regret, and guilt, and shame. But even before Peter’s denial takes place, Jesus extends his healing embrace to him, and the entire group. “Do not let your hearts be troubled.” “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you.” His words of comfort and healing bring us to the passage for today’s reflection.
Jesus tells his dearest friends and disciples exactly what the life-source is that flows through him. It’s Love! But it’s no ordinary love that flows between him and the Father. This love is the very life of God.
When Jesus tells the disciples, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love” he’s teaching all of us that when we surrender our hearts, our minds, our wills, our egos to him, Divine Love will flow through us. When that happens everything changes. We become children of God! As a child of God, love rules, and directs my life.
As a child of God, Jesus’ love can continue to work through me, healing, guiding, teaching, extending God’s loving compassion and forgiveness. We conclude our reflection with the last directive Jesus gave. “I have called you friends because I have told you everything that I 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.”
What a vocation we have!