Acts 14:21-27, Psalm 145, Rev 21:1-5a, Jn 13:31-33a, 34-35
Jesus’ compact post betrayal teaching on love wildly captures our hearts and minds as we continue our Easter season journey. How can he be so free from being trapped in resentment, frustration, sadness and confusion except that he loves the way he is inviting us to love and it radically frees him to be about what he is here for – to love.
The reading from Revelation calls our attention to the word new – new heavens and a new earth – I make all things new. For quite a while I have been reflecting on and praying over the reality that monastic living engages a person in becoming new while remaining by the vow of stability in the same place for one’s whole life, engaged in ritual repetitive prayer, discovering in what may appear to be the same, God is stretching one’s consciousness to recognize a newness that is not novelty but a profound depth that is not of one’s own making but is being brought about by the faithful encounter with the living God.
So those in the first reading are being brought beyond familiar religious practice as the door is opened to the Gentiles. Stunningly what God brings about is not an abandonment but an expansion, not a negative but a positive, where hesitancy and fear are replaced by an unanticipated richness that is very much what the Easter season invites us to discover.
Jesus urges us to love as he loves. It is this loving following his example that brings everyone to know that we are his disciples. The manner in which we love distinguishes us as having a character that is not manipulative or self serving but self giving and unreservedly generous. Jesus’ love brings him to offer forgiveness that repairs the breakdowns and transgressions in relationships and restores peace. Forgiving someone we like moves along fairly smoothly, forgiving enemies, forgiving those who are damaging the capability for us to enjoy together the kind of living God wishes everyone to have is more challenging. Yet this is the transforming love Jesus brings into the world and gives us to give away. This is not sentimental love, it is hard work. And Jesus leads by example. And the early church was swiftly brought to know these hard decisions can only be made when one works at cultivating the relationship with Jesus which brings one to be able to follow his commandment to love so courageously.
Drawing close to altar table this morning to be fed we pray for insight to recognize where and how we can love as Jesus is calling us to love.