May 1, 2016 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
Jesus speaks often about love, and today’s Gospel from St. John is no exception. The Lord says to us, “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him.” As has been the case in recent weeks during these Sundays of Easter, all the readings are from the New Testament.
When Jesus spoke of love, He talked about loving everyone. Most of us would be classified as Gentiles in the early Church. It was St. Paul who perhaps more than anyone else reached out with love and respect to Gentiles, in fact to everyone. A dispute that has arisen is reported in the First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles. At the core of the disagreement is an understanding of who can be saved. The contingent from Judea maintain that someone can only be saved if they first embrace the Law of Moses.
Paul, on the other hand, maintains that to be saved one must be made right with God. This was an issue that had to be settled. The Church was in its infancy, but as Paul maintained, and eventually won the disagreement, Christ had come to save everyone. Christ had come to love everyone, not just a select few. We are called to the same kind of love, not some selective love, and as difficult as it may be for us, it is how we are supposed to live out our call to discipleship. This call to love is explained many times over by Blessed Mother Teresa, who said, “It is not the magnitude of our actions, but the amount of love that is put into them that matters.”
The Second Reading from the Book of Revelation delves further into John’s vision of the “new Jerusalem.” John comments on the city, saying, “I saw no temple in the city, for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.” Of course, we can expand that vision to include and explain what should really be the temple in our faith. For Catholics and Christians the temple is God’s people. The temple is all around us, and to live lives of stewardship and discipleship we need to recognize that and love based upon that perspective.
John goes on to say in his vision that “The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.” For John, for the Lord, and for us the ideas of light and joy are synonymous. Jesus is the “light of the world.” Light speaks of beauty because without light there is no beauty. Light also speaks of knowledge and in the eternal life to come we will all know the Lord as He knows us. Seeing the Lord in everyone is what makes us able to love as Jesus wants us to love.
The Gospel Reading from the Book of St. John speaks of the two gifts Jesus grants us before He departs from this world. He give us the Holy Spirit and the sense of peace we need to live out our lives on earth. As part of that Jesus gives us also the gift of the Word, His Word. To understand the Word of the Lord we must first receive it. The Church was established on that Word, and it is the Word that allows us to maintain it.
When someone leaves earthly life, they may leave an inheritance to others. Jesus has given us two things greater than any inheritance — the presence and power of the Holy Spirit, and the peace and comfort of Jesus Himself. Jesus had complete trust in God the Father. We need to share that trust by loving one another. That is our true inheritance.