Click here if you don’t see subscription options
Jaime L. WatersApril 22, 2021
Pixabay (Pexels)

Why should we love one another? Today’s second reading and Gospel help us to answer this question. But the even more pressing question is how should we love one another?

‘Love one another as I love you.’ (Jn 15:12)

Liturgical day
Acts 10:25-48; Ps 98; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17

What can you do to promote love in the world?

How can you confront and combat hate?

How might Martin Luther King Jr.’s Beloved Community be realized?


In the New Testament, the Gospel of John and the three letters of John share stylistic features, emphasize similar theological points and address problems that affected early Christians. Because of their commonalities, these texts collectively are referred to as the Johannine literature, and they likely emerged from the same community.

Love permeates the second reading. The community members are called “beloved” (agapetoi), and they are told to love one another (agape) because God loves them. Moreover, the passage makes the simple, direct, yet profoundly complex statement: God is love. The way to understand what that means is to look at Christ’s death, understood as a selfless act of love. As the text continues (which we will hear next week), 1 John affirms that imitating God’s love with our own acts of selfless love allows God to live in us and divine love to be perfected (1 Jn 4:12). 

In the Gospel, Jesus proclaims that his followers must keep the commandment to “love one another as I love you.” Moreover, Jesus declares that selfless love comes from a willingness to sacrifice one’s life for others. In the Gospel narrative, Jesus is arrested soon after this proclamation, so he is preparing his followers to understand and interpret his crucifixion as an example of selfless love (agape).

Unfortunately, the world is filled with much hate. Not only are many people not living selflessly, but they are living with hatred and disregard for others. Even worse, many claim to be followers of Christ while spewing hatred toward others. The love that is envisioned by the Johannine community may be difficult, but it is essential that we all work toward it. The readings proclaim that we come to know God by being like God.

As to the question of how we can show selfless love, we might reflect on Martin Luther King Jr.’s ideas about love and the Beloved Community: “Love is creative and redemptive. Love builds up and unites; hate tears down and destroys.” King’s vision of the Beloved Community was grounded in love, reconciliation, dignity and respect for all. Poverty, racism, violence and the conditions that stem from these evils are intolerable. By working to end hate and division, fighting conditions and practices that dishonor others, we show our love for one another—and we come to know God by being more like God.

We don’t have comments turned on everywhere anymore. We have recently relaunched the commenting experience at America and are aiming for a more focused commenting experience with better moderation by opening comments on a select number of articles each day.

But we still want your feedback. You can join the conversation about this article with us in social media on Twitter or Facebook, or in one of our Facebook discussion groups for various topics.

Or send us feedback on this article with one of the options below:

We welcome and read all letters to the editor but, due to the volume received, cannot guarantee a response.

In order to be considered for publication, letters should be brief (around 200 words or less) and include the author’s name and geographic location. Letters may be edited for length and clarity.

We open comments only on select articles so that we can provide a focused and well-moderated discussion on interesting topics. If you think this article provides the opportunity for such a discussion, please let us know what you'd like to talk about, or what interesting question you think readers might want to respond to.

If we decide to open comments on this article, we will email you to let you know.

If you have a message for the author, we will do our best to pass it along. Note that if the article is from a wire service such as Catholic News Service, Religion News Service, or the Associated Press, we will not have direct contact information for the author. We cannot guarantee a response from any author.

We welcome any information that will help us improve the factual accuracy of this piece. Thank you.

Please consult our Contact Us page for other options to reach us.

City and state/province, or if outside Canada or the U.S., city and country. 
When you click submit, this article page will reload. You should see a message at the top of the reloaded page confirming that your feedback has been received.

The latest from america

Feb. 12, 2023, The Sixth Sunday in Ordinary Time: Is your definition of wisdom different from biblical wisdom?
Victor Cancino, S.J.February 08, 2023
Feb. 5, 2023, The Fifth Sunday in Ordinary Time: In the light of discipleship, salt represents a gift of the highest value.
Victor Cancino, S.J.February 01, 2023
Jan. 29, 2023, The Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time: One of the Bible’s common motifs is that God honors those whom the world considers disgraced. The readings this Sunday illustrate dramatically this reversal of the status quo.
Victor Cancino, S.J.January 25, 2023
Jan. 22, 2023, The Third Sunday in Ordinary Time: Like the original disciples, as we observe and discern Jesus’ specific actions and words, we can catch glimpses of the light that leads us into the land of the living.
Victor Cancino, S.J.January 18, 2023