Tuesday, June 2, 2009

5-6-2007: 5th Easter (C)

Acts of the Apostles 14:21-27/Psalm 145/Revelation 21:1-5/John 13:31-35
Even St. Augustine questions the passage in today’s gospel where Jesus tells his disciples that he is giving a new commandment: love one another -- as if no one ever loved before Jesus told them to. You could, of course, also understand the passage to mean that anyone who loves is already a disciple of the Lord – whether he knows it or not.

For certain, everyone participates in love in some way. Even though we have had the habit of calling our enemies evil, I don’t think anyone really believes that Russian Communists didn’t love their children during the Cold War, or that, these days, Islamist-terrorists don’t love theirs. The appeal of the television drama The Sopranos seems in large part due to the fact that even the lives of Mafia bosses and hit men have a semblance of normalcy – they love their children too.

On the other hand, love can be the perceived motivation behind actions and events that, in hindsight, seem to have little to do with love at all. An unrequited love can lead to a broken heart, or worse. Love of country can lead to devastating war and love of religion can lead to inquisitions and crusades, not to mention suicide bombings.

If Jesus is offering a new insight into love it might be the idea that we are meant to love as he did – selflessly -- without expecting anything in return, loving even to the point of forfeiting that which we love. The mystery of love is that it is never diminished by our loving. This kind of love beckons us to love even those who are not part of our family, tribe, religion or nation, so we might begin to understand that ultimately we are all a part of the same family. Perhaps this is what St. John’s mystical vision means in the Book of Revelation when he sees a new heaven and a new earth come down from the skies and the One who sat on the throne making all things new. Maybe this new world St. John foresees rests -- a lot -- on how we choose to love.

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