Love Without Fear or Hope

In yesterday’s Gospel from St. John, Jesus tells his disciples that whoever keeps his commandments loves him.

In the homily at the Mass I attended at St. Benedict’s Monastery yesterday, the priest spoke about the quality of the love Jesus is talking about in his discourse in John’s Gospel. Although he began by suggesting that it can be difficult to follow what Jesus is saying in John, I thought the priest gave a wonderfully simple explanation of the love Jesus is calling us to: love without fear of pain and suffering and love without hope for joy. Love just to love.

The priest spoke of it in terms of the love we seek to give God – a God who has no need of anything from us. Love offered freely in return for the love God offers us. Love offered for no reason except that God is.

I thought the priest’s words offered a good way of understanding agapic love, the love we strive to have, not only for God but for all of our brothers and sisters. The love we are called to – not just for God but for each other – is love freely offered without any agenda and without any expectation of receiving anything in return. Love given neither in fear nor in the hope of any reward for the self.

That is a tall order. But it is the love Jesus models for us.