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16.06.2020 13:55:23 688x read.
The Greatest Act of Love: Two Perspectives (Taken from the article, "Communion, Community and Communication", January 14, 2014 By FR. JOHN NAVONE, SJ).

The Greatest Act of Love: Two Perspectives.

(Taken from the article, "Communion, Community and Communication", January 14, 2014 By FR. JOHN NAVONE, SJ).

The ultimate meaning and fulfillment of Mary’s maternity is revealed in the birth of the new family of God. Jesus shares with all humankind the life/love that he receives from his heavenly Father and human mother, making good his promise that when he was lifted up on the cross, he would draw everyone to himself (12:32). The interpersonal life of Jesus Christ integrates/unifies humankind with the Triune God in the triune communion. He communicates the life/love/Holy Spirit of the triune communion through, and in, his divine filial relationship with his Father, and his human filial relationship with his mother. He is the integration of the Triune God and humankind that he enables and demands/calls for. With filial love, he welcomes the divine life of his Father and the human life of his mother, and he pours out that life for the ultimate fulfillment of all human life in the triune communion. Every beloved disciple is called to welcome that same life, and share it with others, just as Jesus welcomes and shares it. Our incorporation into the life of Christ gives us a direct share in his mission. Communion with God, through and in Christ in the Holy Spirit, makes us sharers in the life of each other, in the communion of the saints, a communion that transcends death itself.

John interprets the death of Jesus as the climax and culmination of his life: “Greater love than this no man has, than that he lay down his life for his friends” (15:17). By interpreting his self-giving death as the culmination of his life, John is saying that, in his death, Jesus was most alive, that Jesus was most alive in the giving of his life. The crucified Christ for John is not an icon of death, but of life even in death. John can assert this paradox of life and death from two perspectives. First, in giving his life, Jesus gave not this or that part of himself, but his whole self, his whole interpersonal life, with both his divine Father and human mother. There was nothing more that he could give. Laying down the fullness of his divine and human life, in the triune communion for his friends, is the greatest act of giving, the greatest act of divine and human love.


But it is also the greatest act of love from a second perspective. Jesus gives the fullness of his interpersonal life in the most complete and final way. From both perspectives, John can interpret the death of Jesus as the climax and culmination of his life, as the moment when he was most alive. Loving his own unto the end (13:1) means not just to the final moment, but to the very limits of which love is capable. For John, then, Jesus was not passive in his dying, and his death was not just something inflicted on him. As seen by John, Jesus, in his death as an act of self-giving, reached that moment in his life when he was most active, most personal, most free. The death of Jesus was an act of living/loving, not an act of dying. It was an affirmation of life in the triune communion even in the face of death. This theme is at work in John’s story of the Good Shepherd, who lays down his life for his sheep “that they may have life, and have it abundantly” (10:11). This is a clear allusion to, and interpretation of, the death of Jesus as the fullness of his community-creating, and community-sustaining, self-giving love for all others.

The communion of the Christian community reveals, and communicates, the Holy Spirit of the self-giving Father, and his self-giving Son, integrating humankind within the communion, community, and communications of the Triune God. Christ crucified is the icon of the loving outpouring of diving and human life in reciprocity that constitutes such communion (koinonia).

He is the icon of the divine and human selflessness in communion with all divine and human others, willingly paying the price that such communion entails; for there can be no communion (koinonia) without selfless self-giving (kenosis). Death itself cannot quench the invincible Spirit of love that is the eternal life of the Father and Son in the triune communion. The Spirit is always a gift, the Triune God’s self-gift and call to our true/real selves in the fullness of divine and human life, together will all others, enabling us to do and to become what would otherwise be humanly impossible. Because God alone fully loves all others, good and evil, only the gift of the Spirit enables us to love all others with the same love that no human evil or death itself can quench.

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