Fifth Sunday of Easter
It is the time of year when many people are graduating from school if it is kindergarten, middle school, high school, and college. At all of these graduations, there will be people advising these graduates of what to do. Today our readings come to us with a bit of advice that has the potential to change our lives.
In our Gospel, Jesus is getting ready to leave and go to his death, and he wants to impart to his disciples, his graduates some advice that will go with them as he is leaving them. One might think that Jesus would give them an escape plan because once he is gone; they know that many hardships are coming their way! Jesus does not provide them with an escape plan but a straightforward commandment, “Love one another, as I have loved you; you also should love one another.” The problem with this message is that it is so simple a child can understand it, yet it is so difficult to do as Jesus is commanding us to do!
One of the reasons it is so hard to graduate with this understanding of love is because Jesus is commanding us to love outside of our usual circle of family and friends. Another reason this becomes hard is that we have to make ourselves vulnerable, and we do not like to do that with others. We want to appear strong and powerful. The last reason it becomes hard is that we make love a choice, and Jesus wants it to be the next best thing we do. It is hard, but our other readings shed some light on us to help us understand what to do.
In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas have graduated with this understanding and what they know that to love in this way will cause some pain and suffering, because it is very hard. The two of them have experienced lots of hardships because of love.
In our second reading, John has a vision of a ‘new heaven and a new earth’ and the reason he sees this is because of this command to love as Jesus loved. When we learn to love in this manner God will be wiping away all the tears from the people’s eyes.” My friends, this is only possible when we follow this command to love as God has loved us.
So how are we to live this commandment of God? I want all parents when you go home today to line up all of your children up and say, “I command you to love one another!” Is that going to work? The best we can hope for in raising our children is that they share their toys, they don’t beat each other up, and they use kind words in speaking to each other. We teach our kids how to love by the way we love. Jesus is commanding us to love does the very same thing as he says, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Jesus is giving the formula to follow, which is to love as he did when he was here on earth and left us so many examples of how to love.
We gather in this Eucharist to know the love of God for us may we learn to love as he loves us.