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May 4: Friday of the Fifth Week of Easter

Reading Acts 15:22-31
Gospel John 15:12-17

“This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.”

Today’s Gospel passage is often chosen for Nuptial Masses. It speaks to the reality of love. It gives some concrete form to love. This concreteness is needed when one lives—as you and I do—in a culture which equates love with warm, fuzzy feelings.

Today’s Gospel passage was written by St. John the Evangelist, who in one of his epistles tells us that “God is love” [1 John 4:8]. Today John quotes Jesus so as to give shape to the definition of God as love. In terms of the divine Person of Jesus, John quotes Christ as explaining to us that “no one has greater love than... to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The setting of today’s Gospel passage is the Last Supper. In His own mind as He spoke these words, Jesus knew that He would give the ultimate example of such love the next day.

But the Church proclaims today’s Gospel passage during the midst of Easter. The reason for this is that Christ doesn’t want His disciples simply to admire His sacrifice, but to enter into it. To do what our Savior commands, we need the power of the Holy Spirit, whom the Father and Son will send at Pentecost. In the Spirit of the Father and the Son, you can find the strength to love your neighbor as Jesus has loved you.