Dear Brothers and Sisters,
Last week we heard that those who are pruned will bear fruit. The word for pruned can also mean lifted up. A vinedresser would lift up the vine and tie it so that it is in the sun and the light and out of the dirt. God does the same with us. He doesn’t punish us, but helps us. In the sun, in the light, the vine will have more fruit. The same with us. When we bring things to the light, when we are more sincere, when we own up to our sins and weaknesses, we are more fruitful. We have more peace.
The gospel from last week continues. Jesus says something unbelievable: Love one another, as I love you. He knows that we cannot. He knows that our ideas of love today are often twisted, egotistical, sentimental, worldly, not universal, but usually shown only to ones we like. God knows all of this. So why does he say to love in this way? Because he knows that one day he will live in us. It is a promise that he makes to us, not a demand. One day, hopefully soon, we will love as he did. We will be able to love the enemy.
One of the seventeen bishops martyred in the Spanish Civil War said to his executioners that the first thing he will do when he enters heaven will be to pray for them. He gave his life for his enemies, for those who killed him.
How many moms have given their life to have a family: long pregnancies, painful deliveries, c-sections, miscarriages, dying in childbirth, and how many adopted children, and provided everything for them: house, home, education, etc. They gave up careers, sleepless nights, a lot of money and many difficulties that they never dreamed of. The number of births in 2020 was lower than any year since 1970; it is no wonder. To be a mom is a life of many sacrifices and difficulties and without a strong faith, nearly impossible. Yet God is promising all moms, and all of us, that one day we will love as he loved us. A remarkable statement that we see is being fulfilled in many ‘ordinary’ ways among us.
Jesus says something else that is very striking: “As the Father loves me, so also I love you.” It is an extraordinary saying. As the Father loves his Son, which is perfectly, constantly, unselfishly; in this way Christ loves us. The Father says take my Son, my only Son and do with him whatever you want. He makes this supreme sacrifice out of love for us, who often betray him or deny him. It is something incredible to think about, and, more importantly, to have an experience of this kind of love. It changes everything.
I am surprised how much I still miss my mom who died over a year ago. Many times, during her dementia I thought I would kill her and yet God changed all of that. What an honor a mother receives from her children. It has to be one of the greatest ways to lay down your life for the other, who many times is your enemy.