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HOW AM I TO LOVE MY BRETHREN?
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Friday, 5th Week of Easter, May 11, 2012
Acts 15:22-31, Ps. 56, John 15:12-17


"Greater love has no one than this, than to lay down one's life for his friends" (John 15:13 NKJV).


This is what Jesus Christ did for us. He laid down his life for us. And this is the example we are to follow. We are to lay down our life for our brothers. That is, we are to love them as Christ loved us; and he loved us by laying down his life for us. "This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you" (John 15:12). And he said, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another" (John 13:34). And St. John says, "By this we know love, that he laid down his life for us; and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren" (1 John 3:16). Jesus also said, "If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet" (John 13:14). His love for us is the example we are to follow. He gave his life for us. We are to do the same, pouring out our life for our brethren.


We cannot redeem our brethren by our death as Christ redeemed us by his death, but even so we should serve our brethren with our life. If my work is writing sermons, by this means I can serve and love my brothers, preaching to them the word of life, the word of God. Christ died for us. I can announce to my brothers that in his death is our life, in his death is our liberation, justification, illumination, and salvation. I can make his death known to my brethren; and my brethren are every person that lives in this world.


We can also love others as Christ has loved us through our prayer. As Christians we are to unite ourselves to God through our faith in Jesus Christ, and then intercede for our brothers. If I am a priest or a religious, I will live for God alone in a radical way; and if I want to be a contemplative, I will renounce all the pleasures of the world in order to have a completely undivided heart in my love for God. I will renounce marriage, my family, my home, and all the pleasures of this world to live for God alone and to find all my happiness only in him, to the degree that this is possible in this life. This is the most blessed life, the life that has the hundredfold blessing (Matt. 19:29). In this kind of life I can pray for my brothers and reflect upon them the love of God in which I live. Losing my life in this way in this world for the love of Christ, I find my life anew and renewed in Christ and save it for God (Mark 8:35). Even the example of this kind of life greatly helps my brothers.


Christ died for my sins (1 Cor. 15:3) out of love for me, freeing me from them by serving my sentence for them for me, making me righteous, just, and holy when I believe in him, invoking the merits of his death for me. Once I have been saved through my faith in him and freed from my guilt, I am to follow his example and give my life for my brothers, serving them in love, as Christ served me in his love for me. As he laid down his life for me, so I lay down my life for my brethren.

 

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