Yesterday we listened to this beautiful Gospel that begins and ends with words of love
Yesterday we listened to this beautiful Gospel that begins and ends with words of love.
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
“Whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
In the Gospel Jesus uses the word love 57 times and so St. John’s Gospel is called the Gospel of love. In John’s Gospel Jesus doesn’t tell us to turn the other cheek, to go the extra mile, to give to Cesar what belongs to Cesar. There is only one commandment that Jesus gives – “I give you a new commandment, love one another as I have loved you!” But how are you and I, with our imperfections, with our brokenness, how are we to love as Jesus loves? St. Therese, our Doctor of Merciful love said that as impossible as this sounds, Jesus wouldn’t ask us to do something that is not possible. Therese wrote of this commandment “Lord, you know better than I do my weaknesses and imperfections, you know that I would never be able to love them, unless you, o my Jesus loved them in me – your will is to love in me all those you command me to love. Therese wrote: “Yes. I feel it, when I am loving, it is Jesus alone who is acting in me, the more united I am to Him, the more I love. This is how we become instruments of his love by allowing him to love through us. How powerful, I can’t love this person with my love, so you love them through me with your love.
In the Gospel Jesus tells the disciples that he will send another Advocate. Jesus is the original Advocate. When he says another Advocate Jesus speaks of the Holy Spirit. Jesus is sending this Spirit of Truth to guide us into all truth. He lovingly assures the disciples, as he prepares to go the cross that they will not be orphaned – that we will not be orphaned. The Gospel of John over and over again speaks of the loving relationship between the Father and the Son; it speaks of the loving relationship between the Father and those who believe – the Gospel speaks of the loving relationship between God and you and I. John writes at the beginning of his Gospel “to those who did accept Jesus, he gave power to become children of God”. That is what we are, God’s children. As we move through the season of Easter we see how the presence and love of Jesus goes beyond the empty tomb. Jesus’ resurrection opens up a whole new reality of relationship for us, with the Father, through the Son and in the Spirit. This gift of the Holy Spirit comes to council and defend us. Jesus tells us that “the world neither sees the Spirit, or knows the Spirit – yet this is God’s presence in our lives. We are given the gift of this Spirit to guide us to live out the call of Jesus that we might live on love, that God may love through us. Jesus refers to the Spirit as another Advocate. When we think of an advocate we think of one who comes to our side when we can use some help, we think of the advocates in the courts, the hospital, places of education. Advocates help us to plead our case. But the Advocate the Jesus sends does not come to plead to God on our behalf. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, pleads to us on behalf on God. The Spirt pleads to us to open ourselves up to God’s love, to Trust in a God of unconditional merciful love. He pleads that we might allow ourselves to be loved. We are reminded that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Jesus has laid down his life for us.” The love of Jesus is a total gift of self, it is sacrificial. Laying down your life clearly shows that love requires a sort of death to self. It means that we look to the other first, putting their needs before ours. This requires true sacrifice and selflessness. We lay down our lives for others in many ways. Some small, some big. We think of the powerful witness given to use these days our health care professionals – by the Doctors, Nurses, Chaplains, hospital staff, EMS workers, Firefighters, police officers, all those laying down their lives to help save ours.
We give thanks by following their example. We look for the countless ways to lay our lives down for others. Small acts of kindness, words of support, a listening ear, a loving presence. We lay down our lives when we forgive even when we feel wronged, when we love when we do not feel like being loving, when we show mercy when we don’t believed that it has been earned, when we go out of our way to be there for a person when we do not have time in our busy schedule.
St. Therese said that to love is to give everything, it is to give ourselves. This is married love, this is the love of parents, this is the love of ministry. This is the Eucharist – God so loves us he gives us the gift of himself. I’m sure all of us these past few months have come to a greater appreciation of the incredible privilege it is to receive Holy Communion and we look forward to soon coming together in this magnificent place of worship to be in Holy Communion with our Lord, to be in Holy Communion with one another. Amen!
Father David Nolan
on Monday, May 18 at 12:45PM