By Devin Watkins
Taking his cue from the day’s Gospel (Jn 15:9-17), Pope Francis explored the fruit that can be seen when a Christian abides in Jesus’ love.
Jesus, said the Pope, “invites us to abide in His love so that His joy may be in us and our joy may be full.”
Knowing the Father’s love
He said this love has its origin in God the Father, who is love, and flows like a river through Jesus, His Son, to us.
“The love Jesus gives us is the same with which the Father loves Him: pure, unconditional, freely given love,” said the Pope. “By giving it to us, Jesus treats us like friends, making us know the Father, and He involves us in His same mission for the life of the world.”
We remain in Jesus’ love, he added, by keeping His commandments.
Loving one another
In the same passage, Jesus summarized His commandments with the words: “that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Pope Francis said loving like Christ means going beyond our own selves and opening up to those in greater need.
“To love as Christ means to put yourself at the service of your brothers and sisters, as He did in washing the feet of the disciples,” said the Pope. “It means making ourselves available, as we are and with what we have. This means to love not in word but in deed.”
Service, not violence or control
Pope Francis noted that loving like Christ requires us to put aside other loves offered by the world, like the love of money, success, or power.
“These deceptive paths distance us from the Lord’s love and lead us to become more and more selfish, narcissistic and overbearing,” he said. “And being overbearing leads to a degeneration of love, to the abuse others, to making our loved ones suffer.”
The Pope added that he was thinking about the many women who suffer “unhealthy love that becomes violence.” He said this “is not love.”
“To love as the Lord loves us means to appreciate the people beside us and to respect their freedom, to love them as they are, gratuitously.”
It also means overcoming the ambition to control others, and instead giving ourselves to others.
Witnesses to joy
Finally, Pope Francis invited Christians to abide in Jesus’ love so that our joy may be full.
“The joy of knowing we are loved by God despite our infidelities enables us to face the trials of life confidently, makes us to live through crises so as to emerge from them better,” he said. “Our being true witnesses consists in living this joy, because joy is the distinctive sign of a true Christian.”
And he concluded the Regina Coeli address praying that the Blessed Virgin Mary might help us abide in Jesus’ love and “grow in love for everyone, witnessing to the joy of the Risen Lord.”