Fifth Sunday of Easter

Photo Credit: Ursuline Sisters of Cleveland

Acts 14:21-27
Rev 21:1-5a
Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35

Love in Action

The gospel for this Sunday follows the reading from last week where Jesus is still at the last supper before his death and he is still teaching his disciples. Judas left to meet with those who want to kill Jesus. Jesus then takes the opportunity to give an indication of what the disciples will experience in the future without him.

He begins by telling them that this is the moment when the Son of Man will be glorified. Jesus will be glorified in his death on the cross and in his Resurrection, and the disciples will glorify Jesus in the love they show to others. After telling them that he will be with them only a little while longer, he continues with a new, significant commandment.

I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”

This is not just a nice saying, but rather, it is a type of love that is shown in service and sacrifice. This is not an easy love. Jesus tells the disciples that all will know that they are his disciples because of the love they show for one another and for all others they meet. It will be shown in the way they love and support each other in community regardless of the trials they will face. It will be a love that describes the early Christian community because of the mutual care and concern exhibited by those early Christians. It will be so obvious that it became the hallmark of Christianity for centuries to come as seen in the women and men who committed to loving God and others through their daily lives and suffered because of that commitment. 

One example that is burned into my mind is the example of Ursuline Sister Dorothy Kazel who loved the people of El Salvador and chose to remain there in spite of death threats. She loved God and others and gave her life as a martyr because of both her love of God and the people of El Salvador.

In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles we see Paul and Barnabas traveling to the newly formed Christian communities to instruct and encourage them in their faith. This was a time of persecution for some of these communities, and yet, they are encouraged to stay strong in their faith and help build the Church. They were called to put their love of God into action. We are called to do the same today.

“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Is this true of us? Do we show our love for God and others by reaching out to the marginalized, the new immigrants to our country, those suffering from racism? Have we eliminated prejudice and racism from our hearts and minds? These are challenging questions. Fully living our lives based on authentic love will cost us if we are willing to love God and others with our whole heart. The real question may be are you willing to live Jesus’ command of love or are unwilling to face disagreements over your beliefs and actions with friends and/or family members. The choice is yours – Are you truly a Christian in word and deed or in name only?

What does loving God and others really mean to you?

How do you show your love of God and others in words and actions?

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