This is, indeed, an act of great love. The central theme found in all of St John’s writings is actually this, the great, unconditional love that God has for each one of us. It is a love freely-given; we do not receive it because we deserve it, and we do not have to do anything to earn it! Reflecting on this, St Paul would say, in his letter to the Romans, that God loved us when we were still sinners, still his enemies. Some people find it very difficult to understand this, because we are accustomed to love people who love us or who, at least, we like and to do things so that we earn the love of someone else. God does it the other way round. He loved me first, and this makes it possible for me to start loving others, including Him.
This is further emphasized when Jesus says that there are other sheep out there that are not “in this fold”, that do not know him yet. Even though they are still far away from him, he already loves them!
We remember that earlier in his gospel St John had said that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. This is precisely what Jesus did and what we have recently celebrated during the Easter celebrations. Jesus literally gave his life for us, so that we can live. It is only thanks to this greatest act of love that we can truly live. In today’s reading from the Acts of the Apostles Peter tells those who were arresting him: “There is salvation in no one else, for there is no other name under heaven given among human beings by which we must be saved.”
God’s love is freely given. It is up to us whether we want to accept it or not. Once we experience this love, it comes only naturally then that we would want to share it with others. Today the Church encourages us to pray for vocations. As followers of Christ, we are all called to share God’s love with others. Some are called to share in Jesus’ ministry of being shepherds, willing to offer their whole lives for the flock. Others have other callings, other vocations. As baptized, we are all called to share the love we have received from God with others, who may so badly need it.