“Before the festival of Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father. Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end” (John 13:1). With these words John’s Gospel opens its account of the Passion, the fulfillment of a life spent for humankind in sharing and in loving in total obedience to the Father to the extreme gift of himself. “It is finished!” (John 19:30), Jesus says on the cross, as a seal on an offering that knows no reservations. Some manuscripts of the Vulgate added “all,” for greater clarity: “All is finished!” in the sense that the salvific plan, revealed in Scripture, set in train in the Incarnation, is perfected on the Cross in a supreme act of love.
By contemplating Jesus on the Cross, the full meaning of his words becomes clear: “I do as the Father has commanded me, so that the world may know that I love the Father” (John 14:31). The dramatic fulfillment of an existence lived in obedience to the Father among the people is the most luminous revelation of God’s love for the Son and for us. And it is a love without reserve, which awaits no response other than to be welcomed.
The Letter to Titus says: “He it is who gave himself for us” (Titus 2:14; see Gal 1:4; 1 Tm 2:6). Paul specifies: “The Son of God who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). And there is no greater love than this, to give one’s life for all (cf. Rom 5:7-10; 1 John 4:10). Thus Jesus’ saving mission is carried out to deliver “his own” (John 13:1), that is, the disciples, but it is a reality which embraces the whole of humanity and from which only our refusal can exclude us. Indeed, it is in the very nature of love that it cannot be imposed.