As Jesus prepares to leave His disciples and return to His Father, He summarises all that He has taught them in a very simply way. Jesus affirms to them that the key concept of His ministry is love. Christians are to learn to love one another in the way that Jesus has loved each one of us. When we accomplish this task it will be obvious that we are followers of Christ. Until there is love evident in our relationships with one another it is not possible to call ourselves true Christians!

This may sound a little harsh at first but if we think about it, we will see that it is true. Elsewhere in the Gospel Jesus challenges us to love our enemies. It is easy to love those who love us; even the pagans do as much. The real test of love is when it is not necessarily going to be returned to us. The real test of love comes when our love is rejected and returned with hatred and scorn. Then we will see from whence our love comes! If it comes only from ourselves it is probable that we will give up on that person. If it comes from God we will persevere with them until God’s love breaks through in their lives and they are converted to Him.

The fruit that is born in our lives from difficult relationships of love will be more lasting than that which comes from the easy situations. Love that is born of hardship will be cherished and protected in the long run; where as easy love tends to be taken for granted. It is thus a challenge for us not just to love in the difficult situations, but also to treasure and protect the love that comes more easily. It is only when we recognise the absolute beauty and gift that love is that we will truly begin to do this.

No love comes without any cost. There is always a price to be paid and a risk taken when we choose to love someone. When we receive another person’s love let us, therefore, respect the fragility and vulnerability involved in loving and do our best to return the love in an appropriate manner.

How careless am I with the love of those around me? Do I respect and treasure their efforts to show me their love? How can I be more receptive and balanced in the way that I give and receive love?

Holy Spirit, open my heart to the depths of God’s love for me. Let me hold nothing back in giving myself to Him in order that His love can fully transform my ability to love others