April 28, 2013 –– Fifth Sunday of Easter
Love and redemption are the resolute messages for this Fifth Sunday of Easter. From the dedication and sacrifice of Sts. Paul and Barnabas in the first reading, to the visions of John in the second to one of Jesus’ last meetings on earth with the Apostles, those two themes come shining through — love and redemption.
The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles recounts the journeys of Paul and Barnabas, during which they “proclaimed the good news.” Of course, throughout their journeys they made it clear that Christ had “opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
The second reading from Revelation involves visions of the future. In fact, the name of the book — Revelation — traces its roots to the Greek word apokalypsus, which means “unveiling” or “revelation.” John envisions our world of the future: “The old order has passed away.” He sees a world where we live hand in hand with the Lord — where there are no tears, no pain, no death, and no sorrow. The Lord “makes all things new.” This is the world on which we must focus.
This account of love and redemption culminates in the Gospel from John, where Jesus declares, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
Isn’t this the formula to stewardship? Isn’t this the answer to the question, “What is a stewardship way of life?” Stewardship is an act of love. It is something we do with our freewill; it is not a law laid down by God or the Church.
In none of the readings does it become evident that God wants our resources. That is an error many make when trying to translate stewardship into how they live and what they do with their many gifts. Jesus does not want only our resources; He wants us. What Jesus was calling His followers to do, and what He is calling us to do, is to recognize how much He loves us (He redeemed us with His very life); He then asks us to love one another in the same way. It might be called a Circle of Love. Jesus loves us; we love Him; we love others in His name; they love Jesus; they love us.
The late Bishop Edward W. O’Rourke once described God’s love this way: “It is like sitting near a warm fire. You may not be rich; you may not be a genius. But you still feel the warmth. That is the way God loves us, but He also asks us to share the warmth with others.”