The Twenty-Ninth Sunday of Ordinary Time

John 15:12-17

Chosen to Bear Fruit

Jesus has been telling us this whole time that if we love him we will keep his commandments.  Now, he now does us the favor of stating what that commandment is, and it is no different than what we have heard from him before: “This is my commandment, that you love one another,” and then adds, “as I have loved you,” as the perfect example of such love.  Jesus said on another occasion, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind … And you shall love your neighbor as yourself” (Matthew 22:34-40).  But it seems to me at least that now this love even takes on a greater depth, because he applies it to the family of faith.  It is the disciples, the people of God themselves, who are to love one another with an all-encompassing love (John 13:35; Galatians 6:10).  And the greatest expression of this love is laying down one’s life for one’s friends, which, of course, is what Jesus will do for them.

And to the extent that we keep this commandment – loving one another – to that extent are we his friends.  He calls us not his servants but his friends.  And he calls us friends not because we’re such agreeable people, but because he has revealed the Father to us, so that we may know the Father’s will to do it, and thereby abide in His love.

Then Jesus tells his disciples something upon which this entire discourse is predicated, and it had to be a great consolation for them.  After all, how do we fulfill his commandments?  They are too hard for us.  If we offend in one, we offend in all (James 2:10).  We are so imperfect at loving our brothers; indeed, some of them we struggle to love.  It’s the law all over again.  How shall we be saved?  And then come Jesus’ words, “You did not choose me, but I chose you.”  And that’s true.  If you remember, Jesus said to one, “Follow me,” but to another, “Foxes have holes, and birds of the air have nests, but the Son of Man has nowhere to lay his head” (Matthew 8:20; Luke 9:58).  But then he returns to the theme, “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.”

So we are comforted to know that he chose us and that our salvation depends on his choosing and not on our doing.  But he quickly drops the other foot which is that he chose us so that we may bear fruit, and that by keeping his commandments, which is to love one another.  Jesus doesn’t save us to put us on his mantle; he saves us to bear fruit for his Kingdom.

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