May 19, 2019 Fifth Sunday of Easter

Welcome Father Cyril Today’s Readings: Acts 14:21-27 | Rev 21:1-5 | John 13:31-33, 34-35

Today Jesus calls us to a love like his, a love of service. He calls us to love like our heavenly Father who is benevolent and who shows no partiality. He calls us to love as he loved, meaning to be filled with love for one another. The disciple of Christ is not primarily an individual person but an inter-person. He is always at the service of the other. Hence Jesus gives us the new commandment to love other people he has loved us. The divine command is to love God with our whole heart and soul and so on; and to love our neighbours as ourselves. Jesus has added a new element in telling us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us. His love was the sacrificial love where he gave his life for us. The disciples are now called upon to build the faith of others and we see how marvellous the living faith of the early Church was.

Generally the word love is used by us mainly in contexts which imply deep affection, emotional attraction and a good feeling when the beloved is around or even just thought of. That is not quite the meaning of the word in this context. In the present context, which is the time after the washing of the feet of the disciples, the word love implies a reaching out to others in a caring attitude for their well-being, irrespective of whether there will be a similar response by the other. It is the compassion that Jesus shows for the sinner and the evil person. He even washed the feet of Judas. It is why the true Christian disciple does not in fact have enemies. This is what Jesus is doing in praying for forgiveness for those who were nailing him to the cross. He loves them not as close friends obviously, but as people who truly needed enlightenment about what they were doing not just to him but to themselves. Jesus cared for each and every person. Jesus’ attention here in the farewell discourse, as well as John’s attention in his epistles, is on the crucial stage of promoting the love between disciples. The community is to continue to manifest God as Jesus has done, thereby shining as a light in the world.

We are the disciples of Jesus and his true followers. But to fulfil this call we certainly have to pass through real tests as Jesus did to his apostles. The word that Jesus uses is love or charity. This involves loving a person sincerely and with ones heart and does not just remain at giving things or monetary help. It is a service of the heart which Jesus did. He who truly loves his neighbour must be concerned with those things relating to the purpose of one’s life and earning his eternal salvation. The Love of Christ in the Church is received as precious gift. It also needs be demonstrated in accordance with Christ’s command to love one another. Love will be the mark of the community left behind after Christ has departed. He promises the gift of the Spirit, but that is a gift of empowerment to fulfil his mission on earth. All this is based on Love. Love is the basis of Christian discipleship and the motivation of Christian action. Love makes a Christian distinct person. Above all as St Paul says Christ is Love. Thus, Christians are called to live, and to love each other, as Jesus did: “As I loved you, you also like you the ones the others.” If Jesus is in the Father for a mutual love, then Jesus must also come into each one of us for a common and universal love! Already, through Eucharistic communion, we can anticipate our ascent into Heaven! The Most Blessed Virgin Mary understood this very well: when she saw Jesus rising up into Heaven, in the Glory of God, she followed her Divine Son in spirit, she held him in her memory forever, in order to remain forever with Him.

Source: Shortened from https://msjnov.wordpress.com/2019/05/12/fifth-sunday-of-easter-may-19-2019/ Image: By Senado The Commons – Acervo Museu do Senado