Fr Vincent's reflections on the 6th Sunday of Easter 2021
Almost quoted as often as is John 3:16, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one's friends,” John 15:13, challenges us this weekend. Jesus has laid down his life for us, and now he commands us to love as he has loved. This love is never easy, but if we live in Christ and allow him to live in us, we, too, can lay down our lives and love one another.
Watch the video: Fr Vincent's reflections on the 6th Sunday of Easter 2021
Read the script:
Sixth Sunday of Easter (May 9, 2021)
In the Name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. R/. Amen.
The Grace and Peace of our Risen Lord Jesus Christ be with you all. R/. And with your spirit.
On this Sixth Sunday of Easter, let us pray:
Grant, almighty God,
that we may celebrate with heartfelt devotion these days of joy,
which we keep in honor of the risen Lord,
and that what we relive in remembrance
we may always hold to in what we do.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God, for ever and ever. R/. Amen.
Please pause this video and retrieve your Bible so you can follow along.
The Gospel today is John 15:9-17.
✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one's friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
The Gospel of the Lord. R/. Praise to you, Lord Jesus Christ.
Love! Isn’t it wonderful. Who can say anything against love. Jesus uses the word “love” 9 times in just this very short Gospel passage. And, appropriately, he tells us that love creates joy. And isn’t that, too, wonderful. All we need to do is love and our joy will be complete!
People fall in love and get married; they feel so connected emotionally that they cannot imagine living without each other. All the smiles and laughter and abundant joy – marriage is the supreme sign of love, isn’t it? Sure, around half of all marriages fail, but that’s because they didn’t have enough love. Every couple I have prepared for marriage is convinced they have more than enough love, and their marriage will never end. Guess what; some of them do end.
When parents bring a new baby into this world, they discover a love, a joy, beyond measure. Even what they have felt for each other, somehow, is often eclipsed by what they feel on the day their baby is born. I have heard it more than I can count: “I have never felt such a deep love and joy before.” And with the same confidence: “I will love you forever!” I wonder if I asked parents or children to count the number of arguments that take place in the home each year, they would be able to calculate an answer.
If love was so easy as we want it to be, do you think Jesus would have needed to say it so often? Or, why would he need to make it a command? It does not take long for any person, even before they become a couple or a parent to learn that love is not as easy as we think. And we will not always feel love even toward those we think we will never stop loving!
One meaning of the word “love,” is that emotional reaction of euphoria we experience when happiness overwhelms us. This is “falling in love;” falling because we are not in control of ourselves in moments like that. We are overwhelmed, unable to think and reason with total clarity. This is not the love which Jesus intends, even if this is where all love starts.
Once we experience that emotional joy, then we must step back and begin to think through the reality that emotions come and go, both good and bad feelings. Emotional joy and emotional love will not last on their own; they leave. It takes making a decision that this person deserves my commitment; that what I “feel” becomes what I “choose;” and what I choose becomes how I “think;” and finally, how I think becomes how I “live and act!”
True love is a decision that I value another person so much that I commit myself to that person’s good, no matter what it will cost me. Jesus says it: there is no great love than to lay down one’s life! This is the ultimate cost, because it is the ultimate commitment. I do not love unless I can see myself sacrificing who and what I am for the sake of the other. That has never been easy, and it never will be easy. It is not based on an emotional reaction but on a well thought out and planned decision. That is why Jesus commands love; we must think and judge and plan to make a life-giving commitment.
Granted, we don’t always die just because we commit ourselves in love. But we do end up sacrificing my will and my happiness to show love to others. And the feeling we get when another person’s happiness or well-being motivates my choices is a solid joy; the joy Jesus promises in the Gospel – not a passing emotion, but an experience that gives life meaning.
Jesus (and I with him) pray that each of you knows that love and that joy in your life!
And now, I would like to offer the tri-part Easter Blessing:
The Lord be with you. R/. And with your spirit.
Bow down for the blessing.
May God, who by the Resurrection of his Only Begotten Son
was pleased to confer on you
the gift of redemption and of adoption,
give you gladness by his blessing. R/. Amen.
May he, by whose redeeming work
you have received the gift of everlasting freedom,
make you heirs to an eternal inheritance. R/. Amen.
And may you, who have already risen with Christ
in Baptism through faith,
by living in a right manner on this earth,
be united with him in the homeland of heaven. R/. Amen.
And may the blessing of almighty God,
the Father, and the Son, ✠ and the Holy Spirit,
come down on you and remain with you for ever. R/. Amen.