A way to describe the Easter season is walking through the Gospel of John and Acts of the Apostles. While the synoptic Gospels have the central theme of the Kingdom of God, being expressed by the miracles performed by Christ, John’s Gospel on the other hand, has the central theme of love. This is what we are called to reflect on today, the pro-active love of God and the commandment to love one another, with Christ as our yardstick. When we talk of love as the central them of John’s Gospel, we emphatically speak of the Divine Logos, which is seen as the prologue of John 1:1ff (In the beginning was the Word…). The Divine Logos is Christ himself, the ‘Word’ that was with God, became flesh and dwelt among us. Scholars such as Karl Rahner calls it ‘Transcendental Anthropology,’ using the anthropological point of view (the human nature of Christ) to explain His Divine nature. It is in view of this, that the second reading tells us that God is love made manifest among us.
The Divine Logos (Christ) points to the love that exists between Divinity and Humanity. Based on this, Christ said in the Gospel: “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you” (John 15:9). He used the word “As” three times in the Gospel pericope, indicating the love that exist among the Holy Trinity. Firstly He said, “‘As’ the Father has loved me, so have I loved you.” Secondly, “Just ‘As’ I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love…” Thirdly, he said, “Love one another ‘As’ I have loved you.” With this, Christ made a conjunction between the Divine and the Human, which is centered on Love, the commandment he has given us when he said, “This is my commandment, love one another as I have loved you” (John 15:12). He explained the way he has loved us in Luke 6:27-35 (Love your enemy…). In this conjunction, we have the picture of the Holy Trinity, represented by a Lover, which is the Father, and the beloved, which is the Son, while the Holy Spirit is the Love that exist between the Father and the Son.
This commandment of love has been in existence as we have it in Lev 19:18 “You will not exact vengeance on, or bear any sort of grudges against the other, but love your neighbour as yourself.” Christ made this Old Testament commandment new by using himself as the measure and quality of His love to His disciples. Knowing fully well that some of us do not love ourselves, and there is no way we can give what we do not have. The mandate of Christ is to love one another as he has loved us. So it is absurd for us to live as if we were commanded to compete with one another or to dispute with one another or to quarrel with one another. The commandment is love. Keeping this commandment of the Lord, and observing it alone is sufficient for us as Christians. Also, Christ’s teaching of love is what we have in the first reading of today. The reading tells us that love makes no distinction among people.
The gift of the Holy Spirit, which is love, is given to both Jews and Gentiles, to pagans and believers alike. Peter said, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” Invariably, anyone who keeps the commandment of love becomes sons and daughters of God. The message of Peter to us is clear. Our love for neighbour should not be shaped by tribalism, nepotism, cliquism and other vices regarding human relationship. Rather, it should be shaped by the way Christ has loved us. In a similar vein, the second reading tells us to love one another, for love is of God. Further, he defines God as love. Love describes the character and heart of God. God is so rich in love that it can be used to described His very being. Interestingly is the pro-active love God has for us.
St. John says, “In this love, not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the expiation for our sins.” Invariably, love is sacrifice, and when we love, we are genuinely being and acting like God. When we love sincerely, we testify that the spirit of God dwells in us. In view of this, the Gospel asserts, “You did not choose me, but I chose you…” indicating the pro-activeness of the love of God towards us. In other words, we are expected to respond to this love in return and when we do so, our joy will be complete. We cannot claim knowledge of God when we live in hatred, anger, bitterness, vengeance and all sorts of evil in our hearts. In the words of Bishop Robert Barron, “We cannot know God until we enter the dynamics of love.” Love tolerates all wrongs, love is sacrifice, love is patient and kind, love echoes joy. Observe a lover chatting with his/her beloved and see the joy that engulfs his/her face, then we will realize better how sweet it is to love and to be loved. We pray through the Blessed Virgin Mary whom we celebrate this month of May for the grace we need to continue to love one another as her Son has loved us first. Amen Peace be with you! Happy Sunday!