In today's Gospel, Jesus offers us this message of love and peace: "If anyone loves me he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we shall come to him and make our home with him". He goes on to say: "My own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you".
With these words, Jesus indicates once more that love constitutes the very heart of his mission from the Father: he, the Son, comes bringing love.
Love, then, is the most profound truth about God himself, "because God is love".
The love of God is personified in the Holy Spirit: I said in my Encyclical on the Holy Spirit in the life of the Church and the world: "In the Holy Spirit the intimate life of the Triune God becomes totally gift, an exchange of mutual love between the divine Persons... It is the Holy Spirit who is the personal expression of this self-giving, of this being-love. He is Person-Love".
Love constitutes the very essence of the teaching of Christ, for it is the greatest commandment. Life—the lives of all of us—must be based on love. Saint Paul demonstrates this to us in a practical way in the instructions contained in today's second reading taken from the Letter to the Romans: "Do not let your love be a pretence", he says, "but sincerely prefer good to evil. Love each other as much as brothers should, and have a profound respect for each other". Genuine human love is a faithful reflection of God's love. Therefore love is characterized by a deep respect for all people, regardless of their race, belief or whatever makes them different from ourselves. Love responds generously to the needs of the poor, and it is marked by compassion for those in sorrow. Love is quick to offer hospitality and is persevering in times of trial. It is always ready to forgive, to hope and to return a blessing for a curse. " Love does not come to an end".
The commandment of love is the very centre of the Gospel.
It is Christ, the only Son of the Father, who teaches us the truth about God who is love. And this teaching of the Son is renewed constantly in the Church and in human hearts by the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the one who, as Jesus promised, "will teach you everything and remind you of all I have said to you".
This promise of Jesus means not only that in every land and every age the Spirit "will continue to inspire the spreading of the Gospel of salvation but also that he will help people to understand the correct meaning of the content of Christ's message. The Holy Spirit, then, will ensure that in the Church there will always continue the same truth which the Apostles heard from their Master".
It is because of the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, that the Church's teaching is one and the same throughout the world... for the same Holy Spirit is at work in our minds and hearts.
Immediately after speaking of the Holy Spirit, Jesus says to his disciples: "Peace I bequeath to you, my own peace I give you, a peace the world cannot give, this is my gift to you".
Peace is the fruit of love.
Peace is the fruit of the action of the Holy Spirit.
This peace is given—as a gift—in the Paschal Mystery of Christ.
At the same time it is assigned as a task, and it is continually assigned, so that as the Psalm says " justice and peace will embrace" It is assigned to people with differing roles and responsibilities, in the family, the community, society and international life.
Peacemaking is a task that is never finished, but always in progress, always in need of being confirmed and strengthened. We must constantly work for peace.
True peace begins in the mind and heart, in the will and soul of the human person, for it proceeds from genuine love of others. Indeed it is true to say that peace is the product of love, when people consciously decide to improve their relationship with others, to make every effort to overcome divisions and misunderstandings, and if possible even to become friends.
As Christian, we know that we can love other only because God has first loved us. We find inspiration and strength in the words of today's first reading from the Prophet Jeremiah, where God says to us: "I have loved you with an everlasting love, so I am constant in my affection for you". The everlasting love of God spurs us on in our efforts at peacemaking.
Peace requires justice, an attitude which recognizes the dignity and a firm commitment to strive to secure and protect the basic human rights of all. Where there is no justice there can be no peace. Peace is possible only where there is a just order that ensures the rights of everyone. World peace is possible only where the international order is just.
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, I make this appeal to you: build your lives on love. "Do not let your love be a pretence, but sincerely prefer good to evil... Do all you can to live at peace with everyone ".
"Blessed are the peacemakers". These words of our Saviour offer us a promise and a challenge. In faithful response to them, let us build peace!