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SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

9th May 2021


THIS I COMMAND YOU, TO LOVE ONE ANOTHER


Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

1 John 4:7-10

John 15:9-17


Today’s readings remind us of the calling each Christian has received to be like Jesus – by being an apostle (one who is sent), an evangelist (a bearer of Good News), and a philanthropist (lover of others) or better yet an “agapist” (unconditional lover of others). The concept of a Christian vocation (calling from God) is not limited to clergy, those in religious orders, or paid church staff members. All who consider themselves disciples (disciplined followers) of Jesus are called to carry on His mission and ministry.

The events in the First Reading must have been mind-blowing for the early Jewish Christians. They had already had to wrestle with the concept that Gentiles could be believers in Jesus, that is, if they became members of the Jewish-Christian community. In today’s reading, some Gentiles receive the Holy Spirit before or without becoming Jews, even before becoming “official” Christians through waters of Baptism. The leaders of the fledgling church had to reconcile themselves with the concept that God can choose and gift anyone with signs of faith, and that God is not limited by earthly constructs such as “official membership” or “humanly established systems of operating.” Once God has shared the divine gift of the Holy Spirit and called individuals to be part of the believing community, no one can object.

The author of the First Letter of John also speaks to us of this same message by calling us to love one another. We are enabled to love others because God first loved us. In fact, God and the act of loving are synonymous. The very nature of God is first and foremost love. God is love. Because God is love, God radiates love to humans, first by creating them and then by empowering them to love as they have been loved (hopefully, by other humans and primarily by God). Life – human life and divine life – flow from the Love Who is God. That loving life – the sharing in the loving life of God – is what each human long for and with which each of us can be blessed.

In the Gospel today, we are once again present at the Last Supper. Jesus (in the passage we heard last Sunday) has just told His disciples that they are the branches attached to Himself, the Vine. They are given the life force (love) which will enable them to bear fruit. The fruit they are to bear is the loving service of others – even to the point of laying down their lives for others – just as He, the Master-Teacher, is about to do by His death on the cross. They are elevated to a level of not being slaves, but friends who freely serve others, just as He, the Master, has served them by washing their feet and sharing His very live and love with them. They are to imitate Him and remember Him by doing what He has done.

We are people who have been chosen by God. We are called to continue the work and ministry of Jesus. We have been loved. Because God, Who is Love, cannot be limited; the overflowing of God’s love reaches out to all creation, especially to human beings. Once we have experienced God’s love, it should flow out of us, just as it flows out of the very nature of God, just as it flows from the life, ministry, death, and resurrection of Jesus. We are called to love because we have been loved. We should consider it our privilege to announce God’s love by our caring service of others. And as each of us ministers to others, then the words of today’s psalm will echo through us, “All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God. Sing joyfully to the Lord, all you nations; break into song; sing praise.”

Happy Mother’s day to all mothers.

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