Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17
Every individual person in life needs an assurance and support that he is able to manage his own affairs and there is some one who gives him the lending hand. When a person has to attend an interview or take part in something very urgent and important, they dust themselves down, then check with relatives or friends whether they look presentable and they would be accepted. What they look for is a certain sort of assurance that they should not worry and all will be fine. Sometimes when things are hard they may even pray to St Jude, the patron of hopeless cases. Even though all things are in order and the person has prepared himself fairly well, still there is an uncertainty, anxiety and a need for assurance. The prospects of rejection and fear are real in the life of every individual. But once the interview is over, the person is free to accept or reject the offer or the prospect. That act of the person indicates power and that presupposes freedom and power to commit oneself for the cause.
This what today’s readings tell us: “this is the love I mean; not our love for God but God’s love for us.” The Gospel of today comes with the same message, “you did not choose me. No, I chose you. And I commissioned you to go and bear fruit.” We do not have to wait at the throne of God to see if we have been chosen or not. We have been chosen already and by a special universal decision he has made us his own. His love is never a speculation but a reality and it is his word is always effective. God’s love is first, and it is only because of the primacy of God’s love that we have the power and the freedom to choose God. God has already opted for us and he has declared his choice by choosing us. It is a decisive moment of love that began with the Father, the source of all love. Hence Jesus says, “As the Father has loved me, so I love you. Remain in my love.” The hope is expressed that we can come and appreciate God’s choice in us. What the author wants of us whether we can remain faithful to the call of love. God chooses us to love and the supreme example of his love is Jesus. It is the supreme act of Christ’s love is to lay down his life for others and he says that there is no greater love than this act. His love takes him to the cross but the Father’s love brings him back to us in the resurrection. However, his love is not temporary or passing but it is eternal.
Thus he spells out the meaning of the friendship and relationship explicitly in terms of love. The verses that precede the passage give us the parable of vine and branches. As the branches of the vine draw their nourishment from their union with the trunk which in turn draws its nourishment from the care of the vine-dresser, so we experience love which comes from its original source, our God, through Jesus our Lord. But we have to maintain this relationship and it is done by observing the commandments as Jesus himself has kept his Fathers. These are beyond the Decalogue, to say: “This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.” Here we are given a concrete, visible and tangible model of love and that model is Jesus. It is very important to note that this commandment does not speak of God at all. It means that there can be no love of God which does not include love of every brother and sister and, at the same time, all genuine love of a brother or sister is ultimately directed towards God. That is why John boldly says that we cannot say we love God, if we do not love the neighbour; but in every genuine act of love towards the neighbour we love God.
Jesus further says, “You are my friends if you do what I command you.” This is something totally new that he communicates his disciples at the last supper. Jesus is not saying, “I am your God. Do what I tell you or else!” Nor is Jesus saying, “You are my servants and you obey my words and just do what I tell you. There is no argument. No, He is saying, “I am your friend. Here, let me help you and show you the way to the fullness of eternal joy.” Then he washes their feet and shows that the expression of love is service. Jesus has made known to us everything that He has heard from the Father. Through the revelation that was made complete in Jesus, God gave endlessly to us. But Jesus reminds them saying that we did not choose Jesus. He has chosen us and has appointed us to go and bear fruit for the Father. We do not have the capability of drawing towards God. It is by the grace of the Father that we are drawn to Jesus. It is God the Father calling us, telling us through His Spirit, “Jesus is the answer. Go to Him.” The Greek word translated ‘appoint’ in that verse means ‘to put, or to place someone in a position’. Jesus has chosen us and has placed us in our position, as Christians, so that we can bear fruit for the Father. God expects us to bear fruit for him.
The First Reading today makes clear, that any person is eligible to enjoy friendship with God and one another. In The Acts of the Apostles, Peter gives us three spiritual messages: First of all, the primacy of the place God in our lives. We are to adore one God and worship him. If the saint is a saint, it is because he or she was blessed abundantly by the infinite grace of God. Secondly, Peter says God shows no partiality. All are equal to him and he pours his providential love on each equally. He has created us all equal in His image and likeness and we are all children to him. Thirdly, Peter tells us that Christ died for all of us. And the proof is the fact that the Holy Spirit poured out His gifts on the Gentiles. Hence we can perceive that God loves us abundantly and gives endlessly to us. He shows no partiality. He created us equal with a soul and body. He does not look at the age, gender, race or nationality of a person.
The Second Reading from the First Letter of John commands us to love one another because God is love. We are told, “Since love comes from God and everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. If God can give us the best of all what He possesses as His sign of love, we as His children can do the same thing by loving all. “Whoever does not love does not have God, for God is love.” This is a very powerful statement! If we claim to be of God but do not have love, we do not have God. When God gave us Jesus he gave us his love. We visualize that the fullness of God is manifested in Jesus. As children of God, we are called to shine in love so our love may be a reflection of the Divine love of God for the world.
Therefore we must realise that we have been gifted by being let inside the ‘mystery’ of God. We have been blessed with an awareness of the unutterable love of our God for us expressed for us by the life of Jesus. All that we do for God and for Jesus is only a response to the love and call that has first come from him. In the words of the Gospel, “we are unprofitable servants” simply doing our duty.
Sixth Sunday after Easter May 17, 2009
Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17