Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Inspired by John 15:9-17

“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” John 15:12 (NRSV)

Countless couples choose this verse to be read at their weddings, appreciating the focus on love and feeling that it is appropriate for this most romantic of days.

But this verse is not about romantic love; it is about sacrificial love of the highest order. In the very next verse Jesus explains that such love involves laying down one’s own life for another, just as he is about to lay down his life for the salvation of the world. For while love can result in warm feelings, contentment, and desire, love is not a feeling but an action. And even in the absence of those warm feelings love remains, and the one who loves must still be willing to sacrifice him- or herself for the sake of the one who is loved.

Love is patient; love is kind; love is not envious or boastful or arrogant or rude. It does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice in wrongdoing, but rejoices in the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends. People are not capable of such a love on their own; people want what they want when they want it. People want their own way, and frequently walk away from a relationship when the warm feelings, contentment, and desire fade. Relationships are messy. But Jesus commands us to love one another as he has loved us. We have seen such love; we are the beneficiaries of such love. And when we truly understand that such love is possible with the help of God, couples can do worse than to base their marriage on this commandment.

Let us pray. God of love, you commanded us to love one another as you loved us. Give us the strength to be so loving, that others may continue to grow and live in your divine grace. Through Christ our Lord, Amen.