"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life." John 6:68


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Friday of the Fifth week of Easter
Commentary of the day
Saint Gregory the Great (c.540-604), Pope, Doctor of the Church
Homilies on the Gospels, no. 27 ; PL 76, 1204 (©Cistercian studies series; no.123)

"This is my commandment: love one another as I love you"

Since all of our Lord's sacred utterances contain com­mandments, why does he say about love as if it were a special commandment: “This is my commandment, that you love one another?” It is because every commandment is about love, and they all add up to one commandment be­cause whatever is commanded is founded on love alone. As a tree's many branches come from one root, so do many virtues come forth from love alone. The branch which is our good works has no sap unless it remains attached to the root of love. Our Lord's commandments are then both many and one: many through the variety of the works, one in their root which is love.

Our Lord himself instructs us to love our friends in him, and our enemies for his sake. That per­son truly possesses love who loves his friend in God and his enemy for God's sake.

There are some people who love their neighbors, drawn by blood relationship or by natural affection, and Scripture does not oppose this kind of love. But what we give freely and naturally is one thing, and the obedience we owe to the Lord's commandments out of love is another. Those I've mentioned indisputably love their neighbors... but their love does not come from spiritual but from natural motives. Therefore when the Lord said: “This is my commandment, that you love one another”, he added immediately: “Just as I have loved you,” meaning, “You must love for the same reason that I have loved you.”

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