ACTS 5: 27 – 33
In those days: When the officers had brought the apostles, they set them before the council. And the high priest questioned them, saying, “We strictly charged you not to teach in this name, yet here you have filled Jerusalem with your teaching and you intend to bring this man’s blood upon us.” But Peter and the apostles answered, “We must obey God rather than men. The God of our fathers raised Jesus whom you killed by hanging him on a tree. God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Saviour, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins. And we are witnesses of these things, and so is the Holy Spirit whom God has given to those who obey him.” When they heard this they were enraged and wanted to kill them.
The Word of the Lord.
Psalm 34: 2 and 9, 17 – 18, 19 – 20 (R.) 7a
R/. The lowly one called, and the Lord heard him.
I will bless the Lord at all times, praise of him is always in my mouth.
Taste and see that the Lord is good.
Blessed the man who seeks refuge in him. R/.
The Lord turns his face against the wicked to destroy their remembrance from the earth.
When the just cry out, the Lord hears, and rescues them in all their distress. R/.
The Lord is close to the broken-hearted; those whose spirit is crushed he will save.
Many are the trials of the just man, but from them all the Lord will rescue him. R/.
John 20: 29
You believed, Thomas, because you have seen me, says the Lord; blessed are those who have not seen and yet believe.
“The Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand.”
JOHN 3: 31 – 36
Jesus said to Nicodemus, “He who comes from above is above all; he who is of the earth belongs to the earth, and of the earth he speaks; he who comes from heaven is above all. He bears witness to what he has seen and heard, yet no one receives his testimony; he who receives his testimony sets his seal to this, that God is true. For he whom God has sent utters the words of God, for it is not by measure that he gives the Spirit; the Father loves the Son, and has given all things into his hand. He who believes in the Son has eternal life; he who does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God rests upon him.”
The Gospel of the Lord.
GOSPEL REFLECTION: The Meaning of Love
April 20, 2023
The Father loves the Son and has given everything over to him. (John 3:35)
It’s interesting to note that the words of today’s Gospel appear to be from Saint John the Baptist, since they come within the context of his testimony to Jesus. Some commentators, however, suggest that they are words that were actually spoken by Jesus and that the Evangelist inserts them here as a continuation of the testimony of the Baptist, attributing them to Saint John. Regardless of who actually spoke these words, the line quoted above gives us much to reflect upon, in that it gives us insight into the very meaning and practice of true love.
What is love? Is it a feeling? An emotion? A drive or a desire for something or someone? Of course, the secular understanding of love is much different than a divine understanding of love. Oftentimes the secular view of love is more self-centered. To “love” someone or something is to want to possess that person or object. “Love” from a secular view focuses upon the attraction and desire. But true love, from a divine perspective, is very different.
The line quoted above tells us two things: First, we are told that “The Father loves the Son…” But then we are given a definition of that love. We are told that love in this case results in the Father giving “everything over” to the Son. When we consider the word “everything” in this passage, it is clear that this can only refer to the Father giving Himself to the Son in totality. Within the life of the Father, everything means His very essence, His being, His personhood, His whole divine self. The Father does not say, “I want;” rather, the Father says, “I give.” And the Son receives all that the Father is.
Though this is deep and mystical language, it becomes very practical for our lives when we understand that divine love is not about wanting, taking, desiring, feeling, etc. Divine love is about giving. It’s about the giving of oneself to another. And it’s not just about giving some of yourself away, it’s about giving “everything” away.
If the Father gave everything to the Son, does that mean that the Father has nothing left? Certainly not. The beautiful nature of divine love is that it is never ending. The more one gives themself away, the more they have. Thus, the gift of the life of the Father to the Son is infinite and eternal. The Father never ceases to give, and the Son never ceases to receive. And the more the Father gives Himself to the Son, the more the Father becomes the essence of love itself.
The same is true in our lives. It’s easy to fall into the trap of thinking that love should only go so far. But if we are to strive to imitate and participate in the love the Father has for the Son, then we must also understand that love is about giving, not receiving, and that the giving must be a gift of everything, holding nothing back. We must give ourselves away to others without counting the cost and without exception.
Reflect, today, upon your view of love. Look at it from a practical perspective as you think about the people whom you are especially called to love with a divine love. Do you understand your duty to give yourself to them completely? Do you realize that giving yourself away will not result in the loss of your life but in the fulfillment of it? Ponder the divine love that the Father has for the Son and make the radical and holy choice today to strive to imitate and participate in that same love.
My loving Lord, the Father has given all to You, and You, in turn, have given all to the Father. The love You share is infinite and eternal, overflowing into the lives of all Your creatures. Draw me into that divine love, dear Lord, and help me to imitate and share in Your love by fully giving my life to others. Jesus, I trust in You.