The offer and command of love
Readings: Acts 10, 25-26.34-35.44-48; Ps 98, 1.2-3ab.3cd-4; 1 Jn 4, 7-10; Jn 15, 9-17
The word of God for us on the sixth Sunday of Easter invites us to contemplate the love that God has for us and which He makes a command for us. We, in a way, get a definition of love. This love makes us God’s friends and friends of all. God’s love encompasses all. Nobody should be excluded from the love-circle of God.
It all starts with God
What moved God to send His only begotten Son into the world was love (see Jn 3, 16). God wanted to reveal His heart. God has His creation at heart. We ought to remember that this creation is fundamentally good (see Gen 1). The first step of love is God’s own declaration. You are good because God loves you. Love is God’s offer and God does not give a thing but Himself. Jesus Christ is the love of God in person. He brings us the love of the Father. Out of the offer of love arises a command of love: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.” It is for our own good when we listen carefully to the definition that Jesus gives of love: “Greater love has no man than this that a man lay down his life for his friends.” He said this to His friends before putting His word into action on the cross. True love is self-giving and service. Jesus has done this for us His friends. What a friend we have in Jesus! If we love one another, we shall draw many to the friendship with Jesus. He has made known everything He heard from the Father. What did He hear? That God loves all.
No partiality in God’s love
The first followers of Jesus were very observant Jews. They had to make the stony road that led them from being closed in themselves in order to open up their community to non-Jews. Was God really interested in the life of people with non-Jewish background? Peter himself had to accept the challenge of never becoming an obstacle in the action of God. His Spirit overcomes barriers and unites peoples. In today’s first reading we see Peter categorically refusing reverence that is due to God. No divine honor should be given to a glamorous personality or a puller of crowds or to a celebrity. God alone is worthy of worship. Human beings are chosen instruments of God’s Grace and Spirit which move people beyond cultural barriers. The challenge still remains to continuously overcome the categories “us” and “them”. It may be even more dangerous if these categories are religiously justified. The love of God encompasses all. God’s universal plan of salvation must change my relationship to “them”!
Today’s second reading invites us to embrace the unconditional love of God. We ought to consider the fact that God loves us before we do a single thing which would make us worthy. We are not loved because we are acceptable to God. Instead, God’s love makes us acceptable. Anything that is of love comes from God. Here we need to accept a big truth that everyone who loves is from God and knows God even if he or she does not belong to “us”. After all we belong to Him who loves all. What we have received without charge we ought to give without demanding anything in return. We owe each other love. This will transform the ugly face of the world. Our love should be geared first to those who risk remaining unloved. With the tastes and preferences given to us by Christ we dare to love all. Let us all rediscover our worthiness of being loved and our potential to love! In a special way on Mother’s day, let us appreciate mothers are practical channels of unconditional and patient love! It would be good to pose and check one’s quality of love meditating on St. Paul’s hymn in 1 Corinthians 13, 1-13.