SUNDAY, FIFTH WEEK OF EASTER
Acts 14:21-27; Ps 145:8-13; Rv 21:1-5; Jn 13:31-35
REMAINING IN JESUS’ LOVE
We will be saved not by our works, but by the grace of God: this is the conviction of faith in today’s liturgy. It is God who can make all things new; we are his collaborators, not substitutes for him! In the first reading, on these Sundays after Easter, we read from the Acts of the Apostles, where we see how the ‘Good News’ of the Gospel is spread. A radical transformative force is taking place in the world after the resurrection of Christ. But transformation is never easy. It always encounters resistance; thus, Paul and Barnabas tell the disciples, “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God.” What does it mean to “enter the kingdom of God”? It means going towards a Kingdom in which death is overcome, tears dry up and love will be the law of everything. We must keep this Christian horizon before our eyes. But to get there, it is necessary to go through the ‘narrow way’ of hardship. Paul and Barnabas are at the end of the first journey and recommend fidelity.
There is also something new within the communities. They appoint elders (presbyters) as leaders of each community, who will have to consolidate the work done by them. These leaders will have to revive, exhort, encourage and calmly face trials. The dominant concern is not organization, even if necessary, but life. The structure is in view of life and cannot replace it, much less suffocate it. Then, “they commended them to the Lord, in whom they had come to believe.” All are entrusted to the Lord: guides and simple members of the community, indicating that he is the only guide. He alone gives confidence. It is by the grace of the Supreme Shepherd that the community is safe and can face the future with hope. Today more than ever it is necessary to cultivate and protect this unity in the Church, between the leaders and the faithful, and among the various ministries and the services, under the guidance of the one Good Shepherd, that all ‘Christians’ may be ‘one in Christ.’
What is the distinctive characteristic of us Christians? What will they recognize us by? Jesus says: “By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” What kind of love is this? “I give you a new commandment ..” Jesus says just after washing his disciples’ feet, “that you love one another as I have loved you”. Thus, it is a love that refers to concrete service. There is no love if it is not expressed in concrete service. Why is it new? When Jesus gives this new commandment of love, Judas has just come out to betray him. The Lord desires to tell the betrayer’s colleagues and companions that he loves Judas and every man, whether he is a sinner or not. The traitor is, like every person, an image of God; he is therefore infinitely lovable and loved by God. The man Jesus, about to be betrayed, continued to love Judas in the very moment in which he betrayed him. Here is the new love, the love towards those who hurt you, but to whom you continue to love, because despite everything; you believe that this person is good, even if for now he thinks he will find his little good by hurting you.
Since Jesus allowed the Father’s love to continue to burn in him for Judas, everyone can recognize even in the enemy a person to love. The only remedy for evil is love because all evil is a lack of love. It is as if for the Christian, peace were at hand in all circumstances because every enemy becomes a friend to be healed from his illness with love. Whoever hurts me is entrusted to me so that I love him as God loves him. Then everyone will know that the love that pulsed in the heart of the Nazarene is present today in his friends. However, we must never forget that this commandment is above all a gift and not something we can achieve by ourselves. Jesus said: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Remain in my love.” This is the secret to learning to love like him: remaining in his love, that is, being conscious of how much he loves us, and living in the experience of being loved by him. It is his love that gives us strength to love like him. The less we remind ourselves of his love, the less we love, and the less ‘Christian’ we are
Response: I well bless your name forever, my king and my God.
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