Back in Acts 15 today, we continue to see this picture of the early Church being the Catholic Church. There was a central authority, Peter in communion with the Apostles. Today we see them sending out men to lead some of the outlying churches (bishops). In these first years, the Church was “based” is Jerusalem. Once Peter went off to Rome, the Church then became “based” in Rome, and the bishop of Rome became the successor of Peter.
In our Gospel reading today from John 15, Jesus says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus gives a very important lesson on what the true meaning of love is. Love is a word that seems to get thrown around so easily and frivolously. Think about this: I love chocolate. But would I be willing to lay down my life for chocolate? OK, maybe not a fair question. I’M KIDDING!! Of course I wouldn’t. Because my love for chocolate is not true love.
True love involves sacrifice. It means sacrificing our own wants, our own desires for the good of another. The degree to which we are willing to sacrifice is the degree to which we love. If we are not willing to give up our time, our own pleasure or ambition for someone, then our love is imperfect. But when we are willing to give up our very lives for another, as Christ did for us, then we are very close.
Father, forgive us for the times when we are selfish, when we are not willing to even give up minor conveniences for others. Teach us to love completely. Amen.