Fourth Sunday of Easter

In the Gospel, Jesus comes across as someone who is passionately in love. He tells his beloved that other suitors don’t really care; they’ll desert the beloved whenever danger comes. He, Jesus, knows the beloved, truly loves even to laying down his life. He loves perfectly, he loves to the end. The beloved is us. He loves us perfectly, he loves us to the end.

He comes from the Father of love to love us perfectly, to love us to the end. In this world, God’s love has met time and again with rejection, even violent rejection, but the lover, Jesus, still comes to love us perfectly, to love us to the end. He lays down his life in love for us, he takes it up again in love, to lift us up with him.

He says that he knows us and we know him. He knows us with love. He knows us lovingly and so he knows us perfectly. We may think we know someone, but if our knowledge is married with hate or dislike, then we don’t really know them. God knows us with love. Love does not blind, it opens our eyes.

He also says that we know him – which is to say we know him with love. The gift of the Spirit, given to us in baptism, enables us to know God and to love him – the Spirit brings us into lovingly relationship with the Father and the Son as to a mystery. We know the Son inasmuch as we love the Son and love others as he loves us. We seek to follow his example of love which gives itself in service, which washes feet, lifts others up and so to grow in love of him and knowledge of him; we cannot love the God we cannot see if we do not love the neighbour we can see.

St Thérèse, the little Flower, has advice for us who struggle at times with the love of God: Do not fear to tell Jesus that you love him, even though you may not feel that love. In this way you will compel Him to come to your aid, and to carry you like a little child who is too weak to walk. Thérèse can give this very bold advice because she has glimpsed the love with which she is loved; we don’t need airs and graces with God, our littleness, our weakness, our frailty is enough. She is not advising us to pretend, but if we have the littlest desire to love Jesus, to know Jesus, then she says keep telling him that we love him. He, the Good Shepherd who loves us perfectly, to the end, will come to our help.

The Shepherd tells us that he does not want anyone to be lost, even those who are not part of us. This too is born of his love. And one day, at the end of our journey of love, faith and hope, we shall see lover Lord – his love will flood us, flow through us, lift us up and we shall be one with him in the love of the Father and the Spirit.

St Paul is right you know: There are only three things which endure, which really matter, faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love.