There is a popular saying and I quote, “The greatest happiness on earth is a conviction that we are loved.” If we inverse this, however, it may go this way, “The greatest sorrow on earth is a conviction that we are not loved.” Indeed, blessed are they who are loved and cursed are they who are unloved!
If you feel nobody loves you, nobody cares for you and the world is too harsh for you today’s Gospel passage is your consolation, inspiration and hope. “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish by might have eternal life” (v. 17). Whoever you are, wherever you are, whatever your status, duties and circumstances in life, God loves you! He loves you no matter what. He loves you even if. He loves you whatever happens.
How does God love us? How can we characterize the love of God for us?
Even in the Old Testament, it has been recognized by the Israelites that Yahweh is a gracious and merciful Father to His people: “For gracious and merciful is He, slow to anger, rich in kindness, and relenting in punishment” (Jl 2:12-13). Gracious to those who do not deserve his goodness and love. Merciful to those who are guilty, the needy and the suffering.
His love is everlasting: “I have loved you with an everlasting love; so I have keep my mercy toward you” (Jer 31:3). It is faithful and trustworthy: “Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be moved from their places, I will not leave you, I will not forget you” (Is 54:10) “Though the heavens may fall and the hills be turned into dust, never will forget you or leave you” (?) “Can a mother forget her infant, be without tenderness for the child of her womb? Even should she forget, I will never forget you. See, upon the palms of my hands I have written your name” (Is 49:15).
God’s love is providential: “As for you, every hair of your head has been counted; so do not be afraid of anything” (Mt 10:30). “In him we live and move and have our being” (Act 17:28).
God’s love is universal. God cares for all. It is all-embracing. The evil as well as the good, the unjust as well as the just are the objects of His love (see Mt 5:45). Each individual is precious in his sight: “It is not the will of your Father which is in heaven, that one of these little ones should perish” (Mt 18:4). “There is joy in heaven over one sinner that repents” (Lk 15:7, 10). God loves each one of us as if there was only one of us to love” (St. Augustine).
“The highest proof of the Father’s love is given and manifested in the mission and person of the Son. Through him, we have seen and believe in the love of God for all of us. God gives his Son as savior of the world (Jn 4:42), the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (Jn 1:29), as the one who gives his flesh for the life of the world (Jn 6:51), as the light of the world (Jn 9:5; 12:46). Hence, God in his infinite love has sent His Son for its deliverance (Jn 3:17).
Throughout the whole gospel there is far more prominence given than in the Synoptics to the fact that Christ has been sent by the Father (Jn 5:37; 7:16; 8:16, 28). He repeatedly refers to himself as Him whom the Father has sent (Jn 5:38; 6:29; 10:36; 17:3). He is not come of himself (Jn 7:28), but is come in the name of the Father (Jn 5:43) from whom he has come forth (Jn 8:42; 16:27; 17:8). Not only does the Son, as in the Synoptics, claim to reveal the Father as none other, he asserts that he is in the Father and the Father in him (Jn 10:38; 14:10, 20; 17:21, 23). He and the Father are one (Jn 10:30; 17:22). The words that he speaks have been given him by his Father (Jn 17:16f; 12:49f; 14:10, 24; 17:8). The works that he does are the works of his Father who dwells in him (Jn 14:10). He that has seen him has seen the Father (Jn 14:9). As the Father has loved him, so he has loved his disciples (Jn 15:9). He sets his love before them as an example, and bids them love one another as he has loved them (Jn 13:34; 15:12). The highest proof of his love is given in his death (Jn 10:15; 15:13).
The Son lays down his life willingly in obedience to the commandment of the Father (Jn 10:17f). For this the Father has given the Son; and the result will be the consummation of the gracious purpose which animated the Father in the giving of the Son. The cross will become the center of attraction. Through it Christ will draw all men unto Him (Jn 12:32;; 8:28; 11:52; cf. 10:15f), and gain the victory over the prince of this world (Jn 12:31). Thus will the love which impelled the Father to the sacrifice of the Son gain the end it seeks to attain, man’s deliverance from the destruction which threatens him, and participation in the blessing of everlasting life” (Jn 3:15f; 6:40f; James Hastings, D.D., A Dictionary of Christ and the Gospels, Love).
Jesus is the love of God the Father made visible and audible to His people. Through him we have seen and believe in the love of God the Father for us. Jesus is both the messenger and the message of God’s love for the world. He is the love made flesh. He is the sign and instrument of God’s love for His people. As a disciples of Jesus, let us also be a living signs and instruments of Christ love for the world, for his people. Let us be living bearers, reflectors and messengers of Christ’s love for the world by fulfilling the new commandment of Jesus: “Love one another as I have loved you (Jn 15:9, 12).”
Jesus makes charity the new commandment (cf. Jn 13:34). By loving his own “to the end” (Jn 13:1), he makes manifest the Father’s love which he receives. By loving one another, the disciples imitate the love of Jesus which they themselves receive. Whence Jesus says: “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” And again: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:9, 12; CCC 1823).