Sunday, May 9, 2010

Whoever Loves Me Will Keep My Word, And My Father Will Love Him, And We Will Make Our Dwelling In Him.

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Reading I
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Some who had come down from Judea
were instructing the brothers,
“Unless you are circumcised
according to the Mosaic practice,
you cannot be saved.”
Because there arose
no little dissension and debate
by Paul and Barnabas with them,
it was decided that Paul, Barnabas,
and some of the others
should go up to Jerusalem
to the apostles and elders
about this question.

The apostles and elders,
in agreement with the whole church,
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to Antioch
with Paul and Barnabas.
The ones chosen were Judas,
who was called Barsabbas,and Silas,
leaders among the brothers.
This is the letter delivered by them:

“The apostles and the elders, your brothers,
to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia
of Gentile origin: greetings.
Since we have heard that some of our number
who went out without any mandate from us
have upset you with their teachings
and disturbed your peace of mind,
we have with one accord
decided to choose representatives
and to send them to you
along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul,
who have dedicated their lives
to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So we are sending Judas and Silas
who will also convey
this same message by word of mouth:
‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us
not to place on you any burden
beyond these necessities, namely,
to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols,
from blood, from meats of strangled animals,
and from unlawful marriage.
If you keep free of these,
you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”
Psalm 67
O God, let all the nations praise you!
May God have pity on us and bless us;
may he let his face shine upon us.
So may your way be known upon earth;
among all nations, your salvation.
O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the nations be glad and exult
because you rule the peoples in equity;
the nations on the earth you guide.
O God, let all the nations praise you!
May the peoples praise you, O God;
may all the peoples praise you!
May God bless us,
and may all the ends of the earth fear him!
O God, let all the nations praise you!
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Reading II
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23

The angel took me in spirit
to a great, high mountain
and showed me the holy city Jerusalem
coming down out of heaven from God.
It gleamed with the splendor of God.
Its radiance was like that of a precious stone,
like jasper, clear as crystal.
It had a massive, high wall,
with twelve gates
where twelve angels were stationed
and on which names were inscribed,
the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites.
There were three gates facing east,
three north, three south, and three west.
The wall of the city had twelve courses
of stones as its foundation,
on which were inscribed the twelve names
of the twelve apostles of the Lamb.

I saw no temple in the city
for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb.
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.
John 14:23-29
Jesus said to his disciples:
“Whoever loves me will keep my word,
and my Father will love him,
and we will come to him
and make our dwelling with him.
Whoever does not love me
does not keep my words;
yet the word you hear is not mine
but that of the Father who sent me.

“I have told you this while I am with you.
The Advocate, the Holy Spirit,
whom the Father will send in my name,
will teach you everything
and remind you of all that I told you.
Peace I leave with you;
my peace I give to you.
Not as the world gives do I give it to you.
Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.
You heard me tell you,
‘I am going away
and I will come back to you.’
If you loved me,
you would rejoice
that I am going to the Father;
for the Father is greater than I.
And now I have told you this
before it happens,
so that when it happens
you may believe.”
In today’s gospel, Jesus tells us that he has given us a “new commandment”, one that gives deeper meaning to the precept God gave to Moses on Mount Sinai: “Love God with all your heart, and mind and might; and love your neighbor as yourself. When Jesus says, “Whoever loves me will keep my word”, we are reminded that it is easy to say that we love God, who is all good and deserving of all our love, but it is not so easy to love our neighbor as ourselves, because some of them aren’t very lovable. In last week’s gospel, Jesus made his “new commandment” even more difficult for us to understand: “Love your enemies. Do good for those who do you harm.” You may remember hearing that this doesn’t mean you have to like them, but you can love them by praying that they will seek and receive forgiveness for their sins, and learn to be better citizens of God’s kingdom. At the end of the day, such concern for others will be the proof of our love for Jesus, since loving Jesus means striving to imitate his unconditional love for all of his Father’s children, from Adam and Eve to those who are alive when he comes again in glory.

This challenge is very difficult, and may even seem impossible at times, but our feeble efforts will be strengthened by the love of the Father--the same divine Father whose love is revealed in Jesus. When we allow that divine love to flow through us, we will discover that both Jesus and the Father will make their dwelling within us.

Jesus promises to send us the Advocate, which is the special name John gives to the Holy Spirit. An advocate is one who stands with another to take away that person's fear and sense of aloneness or inadequacy. This divine Advocate will dwell deep within us and will continue the work of Jesus by drawing out all the fulness of his teaching.

John's gospel is full of reminders that Jesus has come among us to reveal the true nature of God as Father, one who cherishes his love much more than his power. It is for that reason that Jesus is called the Word of God, for he reveals what is hidden in God just as our words make known our hidden thoughts.

When we accept in faith the testimony of Jesus about the love of God for us, we are liberated from the need to worry excessively about ourselves and are thus enabled to become more and more aware of others and more ready to share our love with them. When this happens, we are drawn into that powerful flow of life and love which courses between the Father and Jesus. In this sense, we can understand how the Father and Jesus will "make their dwelling" with us. When this happens, we discover for the first time the real meaning of our lives, for we will then become what our creator has always intended us to be.

The Advocate – the Holy Spirit is given to us as one who stands by our side, in bright days and dark, to help us understand the reality of this love of God that Jesus offers to us. As we do so, we become ever more united with Jesus who has revealed the Father's love and who seeks to lead us back to the source of that love. It will be only then that we begin to understand that if we make a dwelling place for Jesus, the Father and the Spirit within us, during this life, they will in turn welcome us to our true home in their Heavenly Kingdom.

1 comment:

Elizabeth Mahlou said...

Do good to those who do you harm - not an easy thing. I do try to do that, though, and the more I do it, the easier and more natural it becomes to do. I usually do the good, though, quietly, and often it is unseen by those who have harmed me. It is difficult to maintain my silence on the matter; I want to jump up and say, "See! You were mean to me, but I am good to you!" That, it seems to me, is not HOW God would want us to do good, not for our credit but for the betterment of His people, all His people. I try to remember that, but there is still that flaw in me that really, really would like to say something. Goodness, some days my tongue bleeds from holding it quiet with my teeth!