Just before this passage, we read of Jesus washing the feet of his disciples, and he says to Peter, ‘unless you let me serve you in love, unconditionally, you cannot have a part in God/in me. You need to Love and Serve self-outpouring-ly even unto death. Like when one gives himself to his spouse fully in and through marriage. I connect this passage this way, because the (installations of the) Eucharist within which this action is taking place is covenantal. And Jesus is making plans to join unto his bride the Church by ratifying this covenant with his own blood. Basically, the Evangelist John has just shown us a great moment, and with this current passage is expanding/unpacking ‘What is True Love’, further.
Jesus knows the extent of the human heart, and he knows the different facets of betrayals. He has accepted this fact as the thing that will open the gates of his covenantal (passion) journey to reach the climax of his coming Covenantal Sacrifice. And love helps him open his hearts to these who will betray him, desert him and leave him all alone. He will still go on to call them friends…
What is clear is that Love is the focus of Jesus’ teaching in this passage. And it means to love, even if your friends are circling you like the bulls of bashan, ready to betray you. Love them and lay down your life for them. Love is unconditional, and it can only be given and given, never held back in its true essence. When you stop giving, actually you have replaced love with something else. This looks like Love, but is a mutilated shadow of what you ought to be. That is what happened with the First Adam. But this Adam was showing us how to love… Because even if love leads to death, love has not ended, but begun, as we note at Jesus’ resurrection.
Loving is not for the faint hearted, but yet it is for all. And it is possible to Love truly, when Jesus accompanies us. Let us appreciate at this moment Jesus’ Love for us, and remain ever grateful to him, for enjoining himself to us, through the Love-Sacrifice of the Cross. Let us also ask him to open our eyes to Love, i.e. to live life like him, and to take us deeper on the path of Love.