Christ’s Philosophy of Love
User's Guide to Sunday, May 10: Mother's Day
Sunday, May 10, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B) and Mother’s Day.
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalm 98:1-4, 1 John 4:7-10 John 15:9-17
Today’s readings contain some of Scripture’s most memorable passages about love. In them, Jesus and the Holy Spirit reveal Jesus Christ as the world’s greatest philosopher on the meaning of love.
Together, they show the story of Christ to be a true revolution of love.
“This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you,” and “This I command you: Love one another.” By making love a commandment, Jesus reveals a lot about what love is and what it isn’t. It isn’t an emotion that strikes almost at random, like cupid’s arrow. It isn’t dependent on the feelings we have.
Love is an act of the will. It is something we can choose to do or refuse to do, by serving others and by keeping the commandments.
Every day, we choose to love in small ways, like dealing with others politely, and large ways, like providing for a family’s needs, as mothers do every day. Jesus calls us to love in ever greater ways, as well: to love the way he loves. We can only do that by forming a relationship with him and cooperating with his grace.
“Not that we have loved him, but that he loved us.” The words in the second reading are mirrored in the Gospel: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”
We cannot and did not earn his love, and he doesn’t love us because we loved him first. His love came first and is the fundamental thing about us. Our worth and our glory is that we are loved by God.
“God is love.” This is what the Catechism calls God’s “innermost secret.” God’s very being is love. He is love in his own inner life — love unites the Persons of the Trinity — and his fundamental action toward us is love: in his continual creation of us, his act of salvation and the sacramental life with which he reaches out to us again and again.
“God shows no partiality.” In the first reading, St. Peter recognizes that God doesn’t play favorites. He doesn’t love Jewish people more than Gentiles. He also doesn’t love religious people more than lapsed people or one kind of Catholic more than another kind of Catholic. He loves us all infinitely.
This fact about love is in itself a revolutionary concept that transformed civilizations touched by Christianity.
“No greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The great act of love of Jesus Christ on the cross united his humanity with the deep love of his divinity. Jesus used his human nature to show what he was in his divine nature: love itself. We are called to imitate this gift.
On this Mother’s Day, we recognize that mothers imitate the love of God. They lay down their lives for their children; they show no partiality; they love their children first, not conditioning their love on their children’s choices or actions.
Tom and April Hoopes write from Atchison, Kansas, where Tom is writer in residence at Benedictine College.