Jesus commands for the Apostles to love one another. Every Catholic man can grow in happiness by building the Virtue of Humility so he can humbly cherish being a slave of Christ and by pursuing the Virtue of Perseverance so he can heroically persevere to keep Christ’s commandments.
5th Week of Easter – Friday – Jn 15:12-17
Jesus continues His Farewell Discourse (Jn 13:31-16:33) during Holy Week, preparing the Apostles for their mission after His departure. After instructing the Apostles with the Vine and Branches, He emphasizes His great love for those who abide in Him and keep His commandments.
Jesus is emphatic about the need for men to love one another, again repeating His “commandment” to love. Rather than vague sentiments or attitudes, Jesus reveals that love requires definitive action, with the greatest action a man can take is to, ‘lay down his life for his friends”; these are not idle or figurative words, for Jesus will soon lay down His life for mankind in the Passion, meeting the highest human standard for love.
Those who abide in Jesus, can aspire to become “friends” with Him. Searing the need into men’s minds for obedience in keeping His commandments, Jesus insists that if men wish to be friends with Him, they must keep His commandments. While keeping the commandments in daily life is a lower requirement than laying down one’s life for another man, all of the Apostles, except John, will be martyred for Jesus; John will suffer significant persecution. While Jesus offers friendship to the Apostles, He remains their King and Master, making it clear that He has chosen them, commands them to spread the Gospel (bear fruit) to the world and demands that they love one another. Further clarifying His authority and superiority over them, Jesus promises the Apostles their prayer petitions to the Father will be granted if they ask in Jesus’ name.
Be awed by Jesus Christ
Be startled at the Son of God’s words, “I no longer call you slaves”: what this directly implies is that Jesus considered the Apostles “slaves” before that point; Jesus frequently uses “slave” (Greek: δοῦλος, routinely mis-translated as “servant”) in His parables, and “slave” is referenced over 70 times in the Gospels, to underscore the spiritual blessing of having the mindset of a slave, which is to consider one’s self completely “owned” by God, and to completely submit to His Holy Will.
Humbly cherish being a slave of the Master
Realize: Jesus calls the Apostles “friends” only once, after a grueling discipleship in which they have given up everything, and followed Him for three years; with His Divine Knowledge, He also knows that all of the remaining eleven Apostles except for John will be martyred for Him and that John will experience extreme persecution.
Believe: Be awed by God the Almighty (CCC 268-278).
Pray: Jesus, my King and Master, help me grow in the Virtue of Humility (a part of Temperance) so I always remember my frequent sins, how little I do for You and others, and that only by Your Infinite Wisdom, Power and Mercy can I hope to be saved; protect me from presumption and help me cherish and be joyfully satisfied by the profound blessing of simply being Your lowly slave who seeks to do Your Will.
Heroically persevere to keep Christ’s commandments
Realize: Jesus makes a binding conditional statement about those whom He calls His friends: “You are My friends if you do what I command you”; every Catholic man who aspires to be recognized by Jesus as His “friend” must strive with all his power to keep all of Jesus’ commandments.
Believe: Recommit to keep Christ’s Commandments (CCC 2052-2082).
Pray: Jesus, Perfection of Fortitude, help me grow in the Virtue of Perseverance (a part of Fortitude) so I tirelessly seek to keep Your Commandments and always immediately receive the Sacrament of Penance when I frequently fail.