1. Feral or ‘wild children’ who have been reared by animals in nature and later rescued are unable to develop relationships or to come to full self-awareness; they are unable to love or to know love.
2. The window period for the development of language and cognitive skills is about three years.
3. Love is something that is initiated within us. Therefore we come to others with a love which we ourselves have experienced from others.
4. We love others from something we feel in ourselves. There are people outside ourselves whom we love. It isn’t something we do because we have been ordered to do; we just feel it and then act accordingly.
5. The love we feel for others has come from somewhere else. It was placed within us by those who loved us first. When we love therefore, we are re-enacting something we have inherited from others. It did not come from us.
Once we get this sequence right, we will come to know that our desire to love; the love we have within us and which we have to give to another; must be given in order to be sustained.
6. In order to understand this command of love, we need to remember some act of love which touched us very deeply.
7. Let us remember something a person said to us or allowed to happen to us. They would be saying something like: I am suffering this for you now and I am doing it so that you too can be of service to others when your turn comes.
8. When the person told us this, it made a very deep impression on us. Ever afterwards we would always return to it and remember what it meant to us.
9. We know that we can now suffer for others because this other person suffered with us. They were helping us to lift others and because of that, we now know what we must go through so that others will feel safe with us. We think of that as we bring up our children and all those whom the Lord has entrusted to our care.
10. Through this memory, we know that when we are deeply loved we do not have to be enslaved to those who loved us. We know we can trust them. It will naturally be someone who was or eventually became very important for us.
11. Perhaps one of our parents, an uncle or aunt, a brother or sister. It could also be someone who later became a deep friend. We remember also other people who loved us sincerely in our lives; a teacher, a friend, someone we met on our life journey, a soulmate.
12. We can also apply the passage to our relationship with the wider world. In all the great trouble spots of the world there are always people who spend a lot of their time working for peace between warring factions.
13. This has happened in areas like Palestine, Iraq, Northern Ireland, the Basque Countries. They don’t make the news headlines but they are really there and as we read this passage we are with them within our hearts.
14. Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you.” This is telling us that we give ourselves to others in the same way that others have given themselves to us. This is very true, isn’t it? Once we love others we find that we can share with them the truth of who we really are.
15. Jesus makes the connection between “keeping commandments” and “remaining in his love”. Commandments in this passage do not refer to a series of obligations. They are rather a general commandment to accept what the other person is doing for us.
16. Keeping his Father’s commandments means simply that Jesus can remain calm within the awareness of his Father’s love.
17. All love produces joy. It is like an unnamed consequence of giving one’s life to others. If our love doesn’t produce joy, it can’t be right. We have to add something to it which we may have neglected.
18. “This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you”. The Christian commandment to love is based on Jesus’ love for us. We love not merely from ourselves but because the love of Christ has taken charge of us.
19. Jesus then goes on to make the connection between love and the relationship between friends. He goes to the heart of what being a friend is all about. It means seeing another in the light of our experience.
“A servant does not know his master’s business, but I have made known to you everything I learnt from my Father.” This tells us that we are seen not as servants but as friends. “You did not choose me, no I chose you”.
21. We often act as if we are the ones responsible for loving others. We do not really choose the person we decide to love. It is God who chooses us to reach out to them. We must be aware of this fact and respond accordingly.
22. Then Jesus gives an important lesson. “I commissioned you” means first that he has sent us out and that we are to go out and bring forth results. The results are simply “to bear fruit”, to show the world what our love has accomplished.
23. Jesus then adds another important condition, “the kind of fruit that I know will last”. It must not be a fruit that no one can understand or accept. It must the kind that we know will last.
24. “The Father will give you anything you ask him in my name”. The Father in heaven will therefore give honour to all those who bear the name of Jesus, written in their hearts.
25. When all is said and done, what really counts in life is the principle of love. Once we know how to love in the right order, we will have kept all the Lord’s commandments.