Achieving peace of mind and heart is probably the one goal common to all of humankind. We live for it, and we even die for it. Happiness is all we seek, except that we sometimes use the wrong ‘search engines.’ And that makes all the difference. Ends do not justify the means; and at other times, not even knowing what our ends should really be is confusion worse confounded.

It is sad when we make of our life on earth an end in itself. We live as though our days will stretch out for ever and are blank on our eternal salvation. That is when Biblical posers like ‘What does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses his soul?’ (Mk 8: 36) makes us jump out of our skin. This has happened to so many who have gone before us – perhaps, most famously, to St Francis Xavier, whose date of arrival in Goa we commemorate tomorrow.

However, if we care to have the mind of Christ, we will not only appreciate the divine plan but also have our own perspective plan in line with it. His plans are based on love – because ‘God is love’, as St John puts it very plainly in the Second Reading (1 Jn 4: 7-10). Love is the very essence of God, and ‘he who loves is born of God and knows God, and he who does not love, does not know God,’ says the Beloved Disciple.

Further down in the text (not part of today’s Reading), the Epistler says, ‘No one has ever seen God, but if we love one another, God lives in union with us, and His love is made perfect in us.’ (1 Jn 4: 12) No doubt, some, like Moses, have seen God face to face, but as to the rest of us, since our physical eyes can perceive only the physical, even if in a limited way, we need to make a spiritual effort to see God, a spiritual and invisible being, with our mind’s eye.

We will never fully understand God, let alone see Him. And love: do we know how that works? Love is an overused, nay, abused word, whose true meaning is outlined by the Catechism of the Catholic Church (§§ 733, 1766, 1829, 2658). Love has been examined times without number by philosophers and poets, saints and sinners, yet few have done it justice. Meanwhile, the celebrated Catholic writer C. S. Lewis speaks of Affection, Friendship, Eros and Charity, in his book The Four Loves. He bases himself on the Greeks who distinguished between storge, philia, eros and agape, and demonstrates how very often they quite imperceptibly merge into each other.

Accordingly, affection or storge is familial love, or the ties we have with whoever and whatever we consider our very own. Friendship or philia covers those who we are naturally attracted to by the values we share. This is different from Eros, a passion primarily understood as sexual, but which could also be of an aesthetic or broadly (not necessarily holy) spiritual nature. Lewis discerns the deceptions and distortions that could well render these three natural loves dangerous if devoid of the sweetening grace of Charity or Agape, the divine love that must be the sum and goal of all.

Where do we find the supreme example of divine love? ‘God so loved the world that He gave His only Son, so that everyone who believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life’ (Jn 3: 16). The Letter to the Hebrews puts it vividly: ‘In the past God spoke to our ancestors through the prophets at many times and in various ways, but in these last days he has spoken to us by His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, and through whom also He made the universe’ (Heb. 1: 1-2). In effect, while Jesus has redeemed us of our sins, by His supreme example of love, He has also made God visible and accessible to us.

For His part, Jesus said: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.’ None that have claimed to be God ever did so, except Jesus, who died for our sake. That catchy line from today’s Gospel (Jn 15: 9-17) is followed up by a command: to love one another as He has done and to bear abiding fruit. What better way to set that love in motion than going out into the world and proclaiming the Gospel? As we see from the First Reading (Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48), ‘God shows no partiality, but in every nation any one who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him…. The gift of the Holy Spirit has been poured out even on the Gentiles.’

You and I are called to be instruments of God’s love, by giving witness to all, including the non-Christian world, as Peter did at the house of Cornelius the Centurion. We must not do anything in fear or for personal gains, but simply persevere in love; we need not worry about how we are to speak or what we are to say, for that will be given to us at the right time. Our love, sincere and self-sacrificing, must reflect God’s love. This will serve as evidence that God truly exists and that His Son is the Lord of our eternal salvation.