Love and Peace
In his homily for 6th Sunday of Easter, Year C, Father Hanly reminds us that the only command that Jesus ever gave his disciples was this: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Readings for Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year C
- First Reading: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
- Second Reading: Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
- Gospel: John 14:23-29
In today’s gospel, Jesus says 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.
We’re so used to those words we forget how beautiful they are. And it’s Jesus at the Last Supper talking to his disciples.
And what does Jesus mean when he says: “Whosoever loves me keeps my word?’ Keeps what word?
The only command that Jesus ever gave his disciples is this: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
Not love him or the Father, but “Love one another.” Be generous and kind, loyal and true, but most of all forgiving of each other. This is all that God wants of you.
The true mark of a disciple of Jesus is his willingness to forgive.
Jesus says: “By this will all men know you are my disciples, because you love one another, loving with God’s love, and God’s love is for always a forgiving love, and God’s love is a giving love, and what God gives, he never takes away.”
I’m sure you’ll all say, “Yes, fine words as we sit here in this church, safe, sound and comfortable. But as for the world outside, the wicked world is a different place, full of evil and guile, and great dangers, too. Best to be avoided at all costs.”
Only one important thing to keep in mind when we say things like that and that is this: the world outside is God’s world, and he tells us, “Do not be afraid, I have overcome the world that you fear. And together we shall change the world.” In fact, it’s changing before your very eyes, for Jesus is among us and is changing it.
And now I shall tell you an old story, which you have probably heard before, but it bears retelling to us disciples of Jesus who are sent into the whole world, sent by Jesus himself, especially to those people who need God’s forgiveness and need God’s love.
That world can be very empty and who but we are to fill it with an understanding that God is there and with them.
After all, to give the gift of God’s love and to teach others how to love as God loves is the reason that Jesus came to dwell among us and why he makes his home with us in the first place.
There was once an old Rabbi who lived on the edge of a dark and gloomy forest.
The forest may have been dark and gloomy, but it was also known far and wide as a sacred forest. And in the sacred forest there was a sacred tree. And beneath the sacred tree were written the sacred words in a sacred language that only the Rabbi could read.
And whenever his flock was in grave danger, the people would go to the Rabbi and the Rabbi would go to the sacred forest, find the sacred tree and read the sacred words, and a miracle would happen and the people in the village would all be saved.
Now when the old Rabbi died, a new Rabbi took his place. He had heard the story of the sacred forest and the sacred tree and the sacred words, so when the people came to warn him of a great danger, the Rabbi went with them to the sacred forest, and they found the sacred tree.
Alas, the Rabbi had forgotten how to read the words, so he made up his own. And guess what, the miracle happened anyway and the people were saved.
A long time passed and a third Rabbi was appointed, but he lived in a city far away, and though he knew the story about the sacred forest and the sacred tree and the sacred words, he thought it was all only a story.
But when the people of the village went up to the city to seek the new Rabbi out, to save them from a great danger, he gathered them together in the city square and prayed:
“O Lord of Heaven, we know there was a sacred forest and we know there was a sacred tree and we know there were sacred words to be said, but they’re lost and gone and almost all forgotten. However, now, in their memory, we now beg you to save us from the great danger.”
And guess what, the miracle happened again and the people were saved.
The lesson? Many, but one explanation might be: God is with us all, and always with us: in good times and in bad, in sickness and in health, in joy and in sorrow, in mourning and in celebration… He loves us, we are all his children, and his love and our destiny are and will be everlasting.
And the people rejoiced and praised the Lord of Heaven for his wisdom and kindness and his love.
And, today, we add to that joy the joy of Jesus telling us it’s all about love: God, loving us and we loving one another as Jesus loves us.
And not to forget the end of today’s Gospel, which is the end of our homily, and that is when Jesus himself speaks to us again. The first part was love; the second part is peace. And he says to all of us here today:
“Peace I leave with you, my own peace I give you. A peace which the world cannot give, this is my gift to you. So do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
And we might well add: “Jesus, take pity on our troubled and fearful hearts, and grant to us the peace and unity and love of your kingdom where you live with us now and forever and ever.”