05.09.2021 Sixth Sunday of Easter
“Jesus Receiving the World from God the Father”
Antonio Fernández Arias
Real Basílica de San Francisco - Madrid
Antonio Fernández Arias was a Spanish painter of the Baroque Period. Born in Madrid to a Galician father, Antonio was a precocious pupil of Pedro de las Cuevas, and was employed from 11 years of age to assist in painting the main altar of the Chapel of Carmelo Calzado de Toledo. Later in his career, he painted “Jesus Receiving the World from God the Father”, which was one of eleven canvases he painted depicting the Passion of Christ.
John 15: 9-17
9“As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another”.
Today’s Gospel is part of the lengthy farewell discourse of Jesus. We are nearing the end of the life of Jesus. In the first verses of Chapter 15, which we heard in last Sunday’s Gospel, we find the words: ‘Abide in me as I in you’. The same words are found again in today’s Gospel. These two verses explain the meaning of the ‘True Vine’ and the ‘Vinedresser’: it is only by remaining in Jesus that we bear fruit. In this way Jesus is preparing the disciples to understand the meaning of the greatest of all the commandments: ‘What I command you is to love one another’.
The Gospel speaks about the most beautiful feeling a human being can ever have: love. Love is the very essence of the Christian message. It is the new commandment Jesus that gave his Disciples before going to the Father. John the Evangelist uses the Greek verb ‘agapao’ to convey the most perfect expression of love. Such love is only found in God because love is God’s essence: ‘Deus amor est’ – ‘God is love’.
“Love one another”
This is the only commandment given by Jesus Himself. Towards the end of his life, Jesus summarizes his teaching on love. Indeed, there was no need of any other commandment. It is the only one He wished to leave to his Disciples. Love of one’s neighbour includes everything.
It is essential to abide in Jesus, as the branches are one with the vine, in order to understand the union of Jesus with his Father. As Jesus is one with God, it is essential for us to be in Jesus, in order to live this great commandment in our everyday lives.
Jesus at the centre of the Christian Community
Jesus is the foundation of the Community. He wants to emulate with his Disciples the communion that exists between the Father and the Son. Such communion can only exist if relationships within the Community are based on selfless love, and the highest expression of this love is the giving of one’s life for others. It follows therefore that our Communities will only blossom and have a future, if members practice love, forgiveness and mercy towards one another.
The love of Jesus is unique
Jesus lays down his life for everyone. John chose to use the verb ‘agapao’ to signify not just any kind of friendship but profound love, where everything is given in exchange for nothing: love for God and love for one another. To ‘remain’ in Jesus gives us the strength to love one another in spite of difficulty, disappointment and despair. Jesus is reminding us that He chose and sent us out to bear fruit, fruit that will last. There is no doubt that as disciples we face a huge challenge in truly loving one another as He has loved us. The world needs such love, we need such love.
“Lord our God, You want Your Church
to be open to all peoples and all nations,
for Your Son was available to all
and You love all people.
Give us open minds and open hearts.
Save us from our narrow prejudices
and stop us from trying to create others
in our own image and likeness.
We ask You this through Christ our Lord”.
(Pope Francis on 20th May 2019 in Saint Peter’s Square)
“The commandment Jesus gave us is ‘new’ in that it is in the love with which He loved us. He gave His life for us, a love without conditions and without limits, which comes to its apex on the Cross.
Thinking back to Christ’s passion and agony, the Disciples understood the meaning of His words: ‘As I have loved you, so you also should love one another’.
Jesus, despite our frailties, made us worthy of His love, which knows no limits and never ends.
He asks us to love one another not only with our love, but with his love, the love the Holy Spirit infuses into our hearts if we invoke him with faith. Only in this way can we love one another as He loved us.
God loves us much more than we love ourselves. This love makes us new men and women, brothers and sisters in the Lord, it makes us into the new People of God, the Church. He made us capable of loving our enemies and forgiving those who have offended us.
Love enables us to overcome the boundaries of our own weaknesses and prejudices, it creates bridges, it teaches new ways, it triggers the dynamism of fraternity”.
 John 15:4  John 15:9: “Remain in my love”.  John 15:1: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser”.  John 15:17  1 John 4,8: “He who does not love does not know God; for God is love”.  John 15:17: “This I command you, love one another”.  Matthew 22:40: “On these two commandments depend all the law and the prophets.” John 15:6 “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that should go and bear fruit and that your fruit shall last”.  John 15:13: “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends”.