Fifth Sunday of Easter, May 19
God Is Reaching Out to Each of Us, Asking Us to Truly Live Lives of Selfless Love in All That We Do, Without Distinction, Without Prejudice or Bias, But with a Truly Open and Selfless Giving of Ourselves for the Good of Each Person who Touches Our Lives.
In today’s Gospel, we hear Jesus speaking not only to His Apostles, but to all believers throughout the generations who would follow and reflect upon His words, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
To better understand our Lord’s command to us, we should first attempt to better understand how He loves us. What is it about His Love which makes it so distinguishable from other loves? What is it about this Love which God has for you and me that makes it so special, so unique – in the way it impacts our everyday life and in the relationships which we have with others?
Several years ago, there was a play that came out. It started in Madison Square Garden, and then hit the circuit of stages in various cities throughout the United States. The play was titled, “The Greatest Love Story Ever Told.” It was a story about relationships – relationships within families and amongst loved ones.
Yet, with all its publicity and theatrical reviews, the play really missed its mark! For it failed to recognize that Singular Relationship which truly speaks to us of the Greatest Love Story ever realized throughout the course of human history – that unfathomable and indescribable Love which God has for all of mankind, about which Sacred Scripture unfolds for us.
The Bible teaches us of God’s relationship to His creation, and His relentlessness in inviting His children into truly living a loving relationship with Himself.
And the profoundness of the depth of God’s Love was revealed to us by Christ Himself, for we find many different Scripture passages in the New Testament which speak to you and me about how God calls us to Himself in a true communion of love – a spiritual union in which God becomes our Spiritual Father, we become His children, a spiritual union in which we are invited to become co-heirs with Christ in His Eternal Kingdom.
“As I have loved you…”
John 3:16 states, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.”
How many times have we read this simple verse and yet failed to realize the fullness and the beauty of its true meaning?
To whom did He send His Son? The verse says, “God so loved the world…” It does not say, “For God so loved His Chosen People…” No! He sent his Son for everyone – peoples of every nation, of every race, creed, culture and religious persuasion!
God is not biased or preferential in His Love. He does not discriminate because of racial, cultural or sexual preferences. His Love is pure; His Love is all-inclusive and non-judgmental. In this meditation, we are NOT talking about human behavior which offends God. Rather, we are focusing on what God IS and what He truly is all about.
In the First Letter of John, we read, “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.”
For you and me, remaining in God means that we embrace this most wondrous gift of Love which God has for each of us – a Love which is so difficult for us to grasp, to put our hands around, a Love which is so difficult for us to fully understand or fathom.
But it is a Love which we recognize each and every time we gaze upon the Cross. It is a Love which we experience, in a very real way, each and every time we receive the Sacrament of Reconciliation and the Sacrament of Eucharist!
And it is this communion of Love which God has for each of us, this total selfless giving of Himself for you and me – a Love which he is asking us to share with all those around us.
“As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
A simple enough task – loving one another. And yet, when we look at the world in which we live, when we read the newspapers or listen to the news on the radio or television, the very concept of a real, selfless love seems to be lacking in so many people – lacking in so many of our brothers and sisters!
If we were to take the time to imagine a world filled with love – a world in which societies and cultures place the needs of others first, a world in which we would find no hatred, no violence of any form, a world in which hunger and disease were eradicated, then I would say that we finally and truly have learned how to love selflessly.
We would be able to say that God’s Kingdom has truly come upon the Earth, fully lived out in each and every one of us – a petition for which we pray daily in the Lord’s Prayer, a petition for a new Heaven and a new Earth which is promised to us in Sacred Scripture.
But when we look around us today, we know that reality paints a much different picture. The landscape in which we live is oftentimes filled with selfishness, greed, power, lust, secular idolatry – these are all faces of a culture which is sorely lacking in the virtue of selfless love.
Loving one another, as we read in today’s Gospel, is NOT an option. It IS a commandment which our Lord expects from each of His children.
And yet, this commandment is not without a living example for each of us to follow. The Eternal Word emptied Himself of the awesomeness and the glory of His Divinity, so that He could take upon Himself our human nature, so that He could teach us by both word and example, including His own death, what it truly means to love others selflessly.
In today’s Gospel, we find Jesus and the Apostles in the Upper Room. He is preparing His chosen few for the Passion which He is about to undergo. He says to them, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” And then He says to them and to us, for His words are timeless, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
This verse reminds me of the hymn which we sometimes sing, one which I am sure most of us are familiar, “They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love. They will know that we are Christians by our love.”
Out of His indescribable Love for each of us, Jesus accepted the awesome task of freely giving Himself up to death, to the point of enduring the horrendous pain of scourging at the hands of Roman soldiers, the humiliation of Roman crucifixion and the horrific agony of the Cross – so that He may teach us, His brothers and sisters, of the Divine Love and Mercy which our Heavenly Father has for each one of us – so that you and I, and all our brothers and sisters of every generation, may be reconciled to our Heavenly Father for all eternity.
This was then, is now, and always will be the ultimate example of the infinite and selfless Love which God has for each of us! And He asks both you and me to emulate His Love, insofar as you and I are able on this side of eternity – in our thoughts, in our words and in all our interactions with each other – in our daily lives.
The lasting joy which each of us ultimately seeks is the eternal joy, the eternal happiness with the God who loves you and me so profoundly – the Eternal Love which is beyond human explanation or adequate expression. And it is because of this Love that He invites each of us to be with Him always.
He invites both you and me to be in relationship with Him – a relationship which is holy, a relationship which is loving and intimate, a relationship which unites us with His Love for all eternity.
For, as we read from the Book of Revelation in our Second Reading today, “‘Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.’ The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’”
This newness about which we are promised is the peace and love for which we all deeply yearn within our hearts. It is a life filled with eternal joy, a life in which God’s Presence is always before us, loving us, caring for us – a life in which there are no more wars, no more disease, no more despair.
For you and me today, here on this side of Heaven, God is reaching out to each of us, asking us to truly live lives of selfless love in all that we do. It is easy to live this virtuous love for all those whom we hold dear within our families. God is asking us, however, to take this same love and live it in the world.
“As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” – without distinction, without prejudice or bias, but with a truly open and selfless giving of ourselves for the good of each person who touches our lives!
Jesus loved you and me so much, that He stretched out His arms so that He may embrace us for all eternity. In remembrance of His Love, in remembrance of His example, can we do no less?
May God bless you, God love you, and may God always keep you. †
Please Comment, Like and Share, and Suggest to your Facebook friends – to spread the message of God’s Merciful Love.
Por favor Comente, Le Gusta y Comparta, y Sugiera a tus amigos en Facebook – en difundir el mensaje del Misericordioso Amor de Dios.
Scripture for the Day
- “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34)
- “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (John 3:16)
- “In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 John 4:9-10)
- “But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us.” (Romans 5:8)
- “We have come to know and to believe in the love God has for us. God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God and God in him.” (1 John 4:16)
- “See what love the Father has bestowed on us that we may be called the children of God. Yet so we are.” (1 John 3:1ab)
- “The commandments…are summed up in this saying, namely, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ Love does no evil to the neighbor; hence, love is the fulfillment of the law.” (Romans 13:9-10)
- “I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, ‘Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain, for the old order has passed away.’ The One who sat on the throne said, ‘Behold, I make all things new.’” (Revelation 21:3-5a)
- “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:35)
Prayer for the Day
“Eternal and Most Loving Father,
I submit my entire self to Your holy will.
All that I am today, transform me into Your servant;
living Your Truth amongst my brothers and sisters.
“Thank You for imbuing me with Your Holy Spirit,
who guides me to live a life of righteousness,
enabling me to be all that You desire me to be,
so that I may give my best in service to Your children.
“Forgive me for my past failures,
rejecting the image of Christ in those around me.
In selfishness, I held back Your Love
and fell short in living the virtue of charity.
“Fill my heart with humility,
so that I may always fulfill Your will,
imitating the life of Your Son, Jesus,
giving love without counting the cost.
“In Jesus’ Name, I pray for this grace
for the glory of Your Divine Majesty,
in the Presence of the Holy Spirit,
and for the well-being of my soul for all eternity. Amen.”Anonymous