Jesus said to his disciples, "As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 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. I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete.
"This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another." John 15:9-17
Over this week we celebrate several anniversaries. Yesterday I celebrated the 22nd anniversary of my ordination to the priesthood. Today is Mother's Day, when we honor those who have given us life and unconditional love. Tomorrow would have been my father's 95th birthday, and Tuesday is our 37th wedding anniversary. There is a tenderness in this season, a sweet memory but also a challenge - a challenge to honor vows and memories, to continue to be faithful and to love in response to an abundance of love.
As a child, we often bristle against commands and rules, thinking we are being held back and restricted. And yet, we are kept safe, and grow to maturity because of the rules and the people who kept us safe. Jesus sets a few rules and commands for his disciples and all his followers. We are asked to love each other as he has loved us, offering a selfless sacrifice for others. The command to love is easy to hear and harder to follow. Because of we love,we have to forgive, honoring and caring no matter what others dish out, no matter how cruel and selfish people might be. We all will spend a life learning how to love completely, forgive continually and to love as we have been loved. And yet it is our call and the rule to live by - love.
Today, as we celebrate Mother's Day, I ask God to give me the strength to love completely and to honor the vows I have taken by living as one who lives by love's command. We are blessed by those who have loved us, so may we honor them by being those who practice love and forgiveness in every moment. May the rule we live by give us joy, so that we might share God's love across our communities.
O God, you have prepared for those who love you such good things as surpass our understanding: Pour into our hearts such love towards you, that we, loving you in all things and above all things, may obtain your promises, which exceed all that we can desire; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.