May 9, 2021 — Sixth Sunday of Easter
ACTS 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; PS 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; 1 JN 4:7-10; JN 15:9-17
Our readings today call us to love as Christ loves. This request from our Lord is no small endeavor. It is something we must work at every day in every moment. When we put it at the forefront of our minds and hearts, and strive to live it out each day, it will transform our lives and impact others, too.
As St. John tells us in our Second Reading, it is “not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” Recall that God loved us first, not because of what we do for Him, but because He created us out of love. His love for us is pure and radical.
In our Gospel, Jesus says, “Love one another as I have loved you.” The ways Jesus has loved us and continues to love us are endless.
Jesus has loved us by dying for our salvation; by giving His entire Self to us in the Eucharist; by sending forth His Spirit to be with us always; He loves us through the sacraments, pouring out His never-ending grace and mercy; He loves us as we are, despite any faults and shortcomings; He loves us through the many blessings He bestows on us and even the trials we endure. His love for us is deeply personal, boundless, and always selfless and sacrificial.
We are called to imitate this love. And He tells us the greatest way to do this when He said, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
It is difficult to live that out in our humanity. Yet, it is made much easier when we faithfully love Christ. The fact of the matter is, as our love for Christ increases, so too does our capacity to love others.
There are countless times throughout each day when we can do just that — giving up time each morning that we spend listening to the news and instead spending it in prayer; waking up Saturday morning to attend daily Mass instead of sleeping in; talking to God in the car on the way to work; regularly going to confession. These are simple ways to express our love for the Lord by laying down our lives for Him.
The more we find ways to love the Lord, the more we will find it easier to lay down our lives for others — for instance, by responding to your spouse with kind words in their moment of weakness, anger or frustration; driving your kids to another event or activity after you have been in the car all day; saying prayers for the slow person on the road instead of mentally attacking them.
These are the small ways that we can emulate Christ, put aside our selfishness and serve others. Christ’s command to “love one another as I have loved you” may seem daunting. Yet, Christ would never ask something of us that we cannot live out. All we need to do is take baby steps.
Look at each moment and think, “How can I better love Jesus right now?” or “How can I lay down my life in this moment?” for it is in loving Christ that we will better love others, and it is in loving others that we love Christ Himself.