About Friar Musings

Franciscan friar and Catholic priest at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in downtown Tampa, FL.

Remain in my love: friends

deeplyrooted-crThe Greatest Love. In v.13 we come to the greatest love. Morris [598-9] comments succinctly and beautifully: “There is no love greater than that of one who lays down his life for others. Anything else must be less. This is the supreme test of love. In the context this must refer primarily to the love of Jesus shown on the cross. There he laid down his life on behalf of his friends. Some have raised the question whether the love that dies for enemies is not greater than that which is concerned for friends, but that is not before us here. In this passage Jesus is not comparing the love that sacrifices for enemies with that which sacrifices for friends. He is in the midst of friends and is speaking only of friends. With respect to them he is saying that one cannot have greater love than to die for them. When it is a question of enemies Jesus did in fact die for them (Rom. 5:10). And as Loyd says, ‘in truth love has sunk below its proper level if it begins to ask who is my friend and who my enemy. Love gives, and gives everything, for all men.’ That is the thought of this verse. Jesus gives everything, even life itself, for others. There is no greater proof of love. Continue reading

Remain in my love: commandments

deeplyrooted-crKeep My Commandments.There is something very practical here: If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. Many suggest that this is the practical answer of how one remains in Christ and in his Word, bears fruit, and remains in the love of Jesus. These things are not some mystical experience. It is simple obedience. It is when we keep Christ’s commandments that we abide in his love. Once again appeal is made to Christ’s own example. He kept the Father’s commandments and thus abides continually in the Father’s love. And it is not a blind following of the commands, it to “listen through” to the deeper love that resides within and throughout the commandments. Continue reading

Remain in my love: remain

deeplyrooted-crAs the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. From the obligations placed upon his disciples (vv.1-8) Jesus turns to his love for them. He first tells them that his love for them is like the Father’s love for him. Then he commands them to continue in his love, suggesting that it is possible for people to live without being mindful of Christ’s love for them and so break the closeness of the fellowship. Jesus commands them not to do this.

The words agapao/ agapē (love), did not appear in vv. 1-8, but are found 9 times in vv.9-17. These words are prominent throughout the Farewell Discourse (John 13-17) with the verbal form occurring 24 times in those chapters (contrasted with 13 times in the rest of the book) and the noun form occurring 6 times in those chapters (and only once in the remainder of the book). Continue reading

Remain in my love: context

deeplyrooted-cr9 As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. 11 “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. 12 This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. 16 It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. 17 This I command you: love one another. Continue reading

Pruning, Cutting, Being Connected

I grew up in the College Park section of Orlando. It has been around for a while. The first resident, John Ericsson, built his home in 1880.  In the 1920s there was a huge upswing in new homes and many of the neighborhoods east of Edgewater Drive were constructed. The area west of Edgewater was built in the late 1940’s and 1950’s.  College Park was the home to people as diverse as astronaut John Young and beat-generation writer Jack Kerouac. In the late 1950’s and early 1960’s when I was growing up there, everybody knew folks; you certainly knew everyone on your street and one or two streets in each direction.  You could mostly walk up and down the street in the early evening and meet and greet most folks.  They were on the porch when the afternoon humidity had lifted and you could catch a bit of coolness from the evening breeze. Then some darn fool went and made air conditioning popular. Continue reading

True Vine: remain

Jesus-Apostles-vine-branch2Remaining. Another word with a double meaning is meno — translated “remain” in our text, but it also carries meanings of “abide, stay; live, dwell; last, endure, continue.” Sometimes this verb refers to the branch staying connected to the vine and sometimes it refers to disciples staying connected to Jesus. This word occurs 11 times in 15:1-17. Just as a branch cannot bear fruit if it is disconnected from the vine, neither can disciples bear fruit if they are disconnected from Jesus. Continue reading

True Vine: bearing fruit

Jesus-Apostles-vine-branch2Bearing Fruit. The OT prophets envisioned a time when Israel would “bud and blossom and fill all the world with fruit” (Isa. 27:6; cf. Hos. 14:4–8). What is the “fruit” that the gardener expects from the branches? When chapter 15 is read in context of John 14 it is evident that loving Jesus (vv.15, 21, 23) forms part of the answer. When read in the context of John 13, loving each other (vv.34-35) forms another part of the answer. In the light of the what is understood as the two greatest commandments, “love” is the expected fruit. If so, then the unproductive branches of 15:2 are the people who are in Jesus, in the community of faith, who are not loving, who are not seeking the good of the whole body. Continue reading

True Vine: the grower

Jesus-Apostles-vine-branch2The Vine Grower. Like the song of the vineyard in Isaiah 5, John 15:2 depicts the role of God as the grower who spades, clears, plants and takes care of the vineyard only to be rewarded with wild/sour grapes (Isa. 5:1–7; cf. Ps. 80:8–9). According to 15:2, the vinedresser does two things to ensure maximum fruit production (“he takes away … he prunes”; cf. Heb. 6:7–8): (1) in the winter he cuts off the dry and withered branches, which may involve pruning the vines to the extent that only the stalks remain; (2) later, when the vine has sprouted leaves, he removes the smaller shoots so that the main fruit-bearing branches receive adequate nourishment Continue reading

True Vine: I AM

Jesus-Apostles-vine-branch2The ancient Old Testament allegory of Israel as Yahweh’s vine becomes deeply Christianized at this point. Jesus is the true vine of which the Father takes personal care, pruning the barren branches, trimming clean the fruitful. These latter are the disciples who have accepted Jesus’ life-giving word. They are invited, encouraged to live on, to abide in Jesus. The Greek word for “abide/remain,” menō, occurs eleven times in these few verses, a repeated insistence on the return of Jesus by indwelling. The other all-important word is “love.” Just as “abide/remain” is the essential word of verses 1–8, so “love” becomes essential in vv.9–17. Consider how the “Vine and Branches” metaphor concludes: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.” (John 15:16-17) Continue reading