God is Love always ready for us,
whether we are ready or not,
aware or not, faithful or not.
We again hear Christ command us to practice a kind of love that could kill us, a love that might feel good or bad, a love that might cause us joy or fear and sadness.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You and I may feel at times that we’re never going to be saints who can love as Christ loves.
When we feel like that, reading the life of St. Augustine can give us courage and hope.
Augustine took a long time just to turn in God’s direction.
And not only that!
Even after he had turned to God, he dragged his feet, and asked God not to work too quickly on him.
Augustine’s road to conversion and holiness was long, slow and hesitating.
Later in his life, he wrote a letter to God and expressed regret for having taken so long.
That letter to God has some of the most famous words of Augustine.
Late have I loved you,
O Beauty ever ancient, ever new,
late have I loved you!
Christ in his Gospel today speaks of the self-sacrificing love that he commands us to have for him and for each other.
He is explaining and describing the shape our lives will have if we love him and are faithful to him.
Christ says we are to remain in him.
He says we will remain in him if we keep his commandments.
Christ has also set a standard for keeping his commandments.
He is the standard.
In his teaching and example, he reveals that the greatest measure of love and faithfulness is death.
His sacrifice of himself on the cross is for us and for our salvation.
It is also for the Father.
Christ’s sacrifice of himself on the cross is his flesh-and-blood fulfillment of his own eternal, loving and obedient self-surrender to the Father.
The Father, for his part, also eternally opens and gives all that he is to the Son.
Their abiding, mutual self-giving is revealed to us as the cross and the resurrection.
And so Christ tells us in his Gospel today: I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
The cross reveals God-who-hands-himself-over.
The same revealing is present in the Eucharist also.
In the Eucharist as on the cross, the Son of God in his human Body and Blood lays down himself for us and for the Father.
In the resurrection, the Father shows that the love and the life he gives to his Son are everlasting.
The Father hands over his eternal life to be the eternal life of his Son’s flesh and blood humanity, our humanity.
Greater love has no one— and no other LIFE has God— than this: that he give his life for those he loves.
In the mysteries of the cross, the resurrection and the Eucharist, even death and consumption give testimony to God’s abiding life and love.
As the Father loves Christ, so Christ also loves us.
Christ has told us this so that his joy in the Father’s love may be in us and so that our joy might be complete.
God has planted these mysteries within us, and gives them to us to eat and drink.
We do not even begin to grasp the fullness of it all.
St. Augustine, in writing to God, said of himself before his conversion something that remains true for all of us, converted or not.
You, God, were within me,
but I was outside,
and it was there that I searched for you.
In my unloveliness I plunged into the lovely things that you created.
You were with me,
but I was not with you.
Whether we are ready or not, aware or not, faithful or not, God is Love always ready and always present entirely for us.
Let us give thanks to the Lord our God.
Turn. Love. Repeat.