9 As the Father has loved me, so have I 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 These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be full.
12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 No longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you. 16 You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide; so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. 17 This I command you, to love one another.”
The Second Vatican Council teaches that if we are to derive the true meaning from the sacred texts, attention must be devoted “not only to their content but to the unity of the whole of Scripture, the living tradition of the entire Church, and the analogy of faith. […] Everything to do with the interpretation of Scripture is ultimately subject to the judgment of the Church, which exercises the divinely conferred communion and ministry of watching over and interpreting the Word of God” (Dei Verbum, 12).
St. John Paul II, when he promulgated the Catechism of the Catholic Church, explained that the Catechism “is a statement of the Church’s faith and of catholic doctrine, attested to or illumined by Sacred Scripture, the Apostolic Tradition and the Church’s Magisterium.” He went on to “declare it to be a sure norm for teaching the faith and thus a valid and legitimate instrument for ecclesial communion” (Fidei Depositum).
Cited in the Catechism:
Passages from this Gospel reading are cited in the Catechism, paragraphs 363, 434, 459, 609, 614, 737, 1823, 1824, 1970, 1972, 2074, 2347, 2615, 2745 and 2815.
The law of love (15:9–17)
15:9–11. Christ’s love for Christians is a reflection of the love the three divine Persons have for one another and for all men: “We love, because he first loved us” (1 Jn 4:19).
The certainty that God loves us is the source of Christian joy (v. 11), but it is also something which calls for a fruitful response on our part, which should take the form of a fervent desire to do God’s will in everything, that is, to keep his commandments, in imitation of Jesus Christ, who did the will of his Father (cf. Jn 4:34).
15:12–15. Jesus insists on the “new commandment”, which he himself keeps by giving his life for us. See the note on Jn 13:34–35.
Christ’s friendship with the Christian, which our Lord expresses in a very special way in this passage, is something very evident in St Josemaría Escrivá’s preaching: “The life of the Christian who decides to behave in accordance with the greatness of his vocation is so to speak a prolonged echo of those words of our Lord, ‘No longer do I call you my servants; a servant is one who does not understand what his master is about, whereas I have made known to you all that my Father has told me; and so I have called you my friends’ (Jn 15:15). When we decide to be docile and follow the will of God, hitherto unimagined horizons open up before us […]. There is nothing better than, recognizing that Love has made us slaves of God. From the moment we recognize this we cease being slaves and become friends, sons” (St Josemaría Escrivá, Friends of God, 35].
“Sons of God, Friends of God. […] Jesus Christ is truly God and truly Man, he is our Brother and our Friend. If we make an effort to get to know him well, ‘we will share in the joy of being God’s friends’ [ibid., 300]. If we do all we can to keep him company, from Bethlehem to Calvary, sharing his joys and sufferings, we will become worthy of entering into loving conversation with him. As the Liturgy of the Hours sings, calicem Domini biberunt, et amici Dei facti sunt, they drank the chalice of the Lord and so became friends of God.
“Being his children and being his friends are two inseparable realities for those who love God. We go to him as children, carrying on a trusting dialogue that should fill the whole of our lives; and we go to him as friends. […] In the same way our divine sonship urges us to translate the overflow of our interior life into apostolic activity, just as our friendship with God leads us to place ourselves at ‘the service of all men. We are called to use the gifts God has given us as instruments to help others discover Christ’ [ibid., 258]” (Monsignor A. del Portillo in the foreword to Escrivá, Friends of God).
15:16. There are three ideas contained in these words of our Lord. One, that the calling which the apostles received and which every Christian also receives does not originate in the individual’s good desires but in Christ’s free choice. It was not the apostles who chose the Lord as Master, in the way someone would go about choosing a rabbi: it was Christ who chose them. The second idea is that the apostles’ mission and the mission of every Christian is to follow Christ, to seek holiness and contribute to the spread of the Gospel. The third teaching refers to the effectiveness of prayer done in the name of Christ; which is why the Church usually ends the prayers of the liturgy with the invocation “Through Jesus Christ our Lord …”.
The three ideas are all interconnected: prayer is necessary if the Christian life is to prove fruitful, for it is “God who gives the growth” (1 Cor 3:7); and the obligation to seek holiness and to be apostolic derives from the fact that it is Christ himself who has given us this mission. “Bear in mind, son, that you are not just a soul who has joined other souls in order to do a good thing. That is a lot, but it’s still little. You are the apostle who is carrying out an imperative command from Christ” (St Josemaría Escrivá, The Way, 941–942).
Source: The Navarre Bible: Text and Commentaries. Biblical text from the Revised Standard Version and New Vulgate. Commentaries by members of the Faculty of Theology, University of Navarre, Spain.
Published by Four Courts Press, Kill Lane, Blackrock, Co. Dublin, Ireland, and by Scepter Publishers in the United States. We encourage readers to purchase The Navarre Bible for personal study. See Scepter Publishers for details.
“Ignorance of Scripture is ignorance of Christ.” St Jerome