When I place the First Reading alongside the Gospel I just can’t resist crying out: it begins badly! And it’s not just out there, but right where I’m too. That why I see this 6th Sunday of Easter as an invitation to get back to the drawing board and check out if we are still faithful to the original plan.
Bible readings Acts 15: 1–29 Psalm 67: 2–3, 5–6, 8 Apocalypse 21: 10–14, 22–23 John 14: 23–29
Keep the kernel of the goodbye speech
In the Gospel, Jesus continues with the farewell discourse, assuring the disciples not to allow themselves to be troubled; for although he’s leaving, he shall come back. Besides, he will send them the advocate, the Holy Spirit, who will remind them of all he has taught. And he leaves them the gift of peace. Indeed, there’s a great deal to highlight from these last words of Jesus, nevertheless, we should take care not to lose sight of the kernel of his message. Remember?
Jesus gave the disciples a new commandment: that they love one another as he loves them, adding that: it’s by their love that the world will recognise them as his disciples. And in this Sunday’s Gospel the word love come up again. If the disciples love Jesus, they will keep his word, even in his absence. A person who keeps a word, is a person worthy of trust -he remains faithful. I can’t imagine fidelity other than remaining true to this message of love. Appreciating not only how central, but also how safe, love is; St Augustin couldn’t hesitate to recommend: “Love and do whatever you like”. Why? He was sure, with love there’s no room for harming oneself or others. But what place does love occupy in the teaching we get in the First Reading?
Check the list
In the First Reading, zealous persons make a journey all the way from Jerusalem to Syria and order to give a good lesson to new converts, spelling out to them essentials if they want to be saved. What’s the position of love on the list? It doesn’t even appear -it’s circumcision and other customs that that feature on the list. Even Jesus is not mentioned. Dumbfounded, we may be saying to ourselves: but how possible?
But where’s Jesus on our own list?
We may be equally zealous in whatever commitment we have taken up in the church or in a movement of our parish. Just look at the list of rules that we propagate and try to make every new member to swallow: where’s the spirit of Jesus in all that? What place the commandment of love occupy? Then, we may just realise that though we do not preach circumcision or the customs of Moses, nevertheless, the message we propagate is not different from that of those of judaizers.
The call of 6th Sunday of Easter
That’s why I see the message of this 6th Sunday of Easter as an invitation to get back to the drawing board and check the original plan. Possibly we will realise that we have slipped off the path. Indeed, on the original plan, that is the message of Jesus, is very simple. It’s love -no more and no less.
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