Notes on the readings:
1 John 5.1-6
This reading reflects the Gospel in many ways with its emphasis on love and willing obedience. It sets it in the framework of belief in Jesus as the Messiah incarnate (v. 1), whose mission was affirmed by ‘water and blood’ (v. 6), almost certainly a reference to his baptism in the Jordan and his death on the cross. The mystery of the Incarnation remains the indispensable core of the Christian faith (John 1.1-14).
John 15 represents Jesus’ last words to his disciples. It is a free composition by the Gospel writer but encapsulates (as John sees it) Jesus’ teaching for the communities that would live on after he had gone. The teaching we have here is a rather more polished development of what we read in the letter by (probably) the same author. The Father has loved the Son, who has in turn loved the disciples, so they should love one another. For all the talk here and throughout the Gospel of keeping commandments, there is just one basic commandment: ‘that you love one another as I have loved you’. At its highest level, this can literally mean giving up your life for your friends. Jesus’ disciples are now friends (philoi) of each other and of Christ, and no longer slaves/servants (douloi).
John’s understanding of friendship is particularly challenging. Where and when might it challenge us?
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