love one another
5th Sunday of Easter
Fr. Mark Gatto
Preached: May 15, 2022
“See I am making all things new.” This vision of God in the book of Revelation says that the Lord is making all things new. We see the promise to make all things new by politicians, during elections, by dictators, and so on. How is God making all things new in Jesus? Not by force, not by violence, not by neglecting the weak or poor, not by winning over others.
This vision says that God, “will wipe away every tear from their eyes, death will be no more, mourning and crying and pain will be no more.” This reading is used during Easter at funeral Masses. It is a vision of Heaven where all things will be made new by God.
All that is broken, divided, hurting in this life will be healed, reconciled, made new. But, each time we pray the Lord’s Prayer we say, “thy kingdom come, thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven.” We do not simply say wait until heaven and then all will be good. We are called to bring that vision here on earth, in our lives, in our time.
Jesus says that he gives us a new commandment. To love one another. How do we know that we are disciples of Jesus? If we have love for one another. The challenge of the Church today and in all time, is that we love one another. It is easy to love the church as an abstract idea. Harder to love the real people who are in the church with us.
“See I am making all things new.” Only love is able to create something truly new. Only love is able to bring the vision of Heaven to this earth. Only love is able to change any person into something new. You cannot truly help others unless you first of all love them.
I always say to seminarians preparing to be priests, that the first step when moving into a parish is to learn to love the people in that parish. We cannot care for the poor, unless we first of all love them. We cannot make a community new unless we first of all love those within that community. Whether it is a parish, a family, a school or any other community of people. Only if we first love them can we be an instrument that allows God to make them new.
The love that Jesus is speaking about is his own example of self-giving love. Each time we celebrate this Eucharist we hear the words of Jesus at the Consecration, “This is my body, given up for you.”
We need to love one another to become instruments of God making all things new. For we can only bring about something new if we first love them very concretely. Your children, your grandchildren, your spouses, your friends, your students, pray for them so that you grow to love them.
I really am moved by those words in this passage from Revelation, “God will wipe away every tears from their eyes.” I imagine God reaching out to wipe away tears from those who are hurting in any way.
When Jesus gives us that new commandment to love one another, he is calling us to be the hands of God wiping away tears from the eyes of those in our life. Our family, our parish, our school, our workplace. Pray for them so that you will learn to love them. Go out from here and become the hands of God wiping away tears. This will open the path to make all things new.
6th Sunday of Easter – Year B
Fr. David Reitzel
Preached: Sunday May 6, 2018
When I was in younger and just starting to take my faith more seriously, I remember once complaining to a friend about how easy we Catholics have things. I thought, look at those Muslims, they put us to shame. They pray five times a day, they fast from sunrise to sunset during the season or Ramadan, and they can’t even drink.
Or look at the orthodox Jews. They wear special clothes, they ritually wash themselves before meals, and every Sabbath they dedicate the whole day not just one hour to God. I complained, that these guys know what dedication is, these guys know what a life lived following God’s commands is, and we Catholics, what are we supposed to do? Love. It’s too easy, it’s too simple, just love and you get to heaven.
In the midst of my rant, inspired by my youth and misplaced zeal, my friend pointed out to me that Jesus’ commandment for us to love isn’t what most people think. Most think love is a good feeling, a smiling face, or a gentle word. If that’s all Jesus meant then, of course our faith would be easy. But Jesus said: “love one another as I have loved you.” He made himself the standard by which we measure our love. And the standard he set was set pretty high. You see Jesus gave his disciples the commandment to love as he loves at the last supper, on Holy Thursday, and the next day, Good Friday, he died for them.
The way Jesus loved, far from a feeling, far from a simple kind work, the way Jesus loved, was to die so that we may live. And that is the love we must live up to.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”
Some of us may think that this is not very realistic. Will I ever be called upon to lay down my life for my friend?
Well, it was just this past Palm Sunday that one of our Catholic brothers in France did just that. Lt. Col Arnaud Beltrame, a young man who was just recently married, arrived on the scene of a terrorist hostage taking in France. The Muslim terrorist had already killed two people and now they barricaded themselves into a supermarket with hostages. Lt. Col Arnaud, offered to take the place of one of the hostages. The terrorists agreed and he was now in their hands. Near the end of the day the police stormed the supermarket but before they could save Lt. Col Arnaud, the terrorists stabbed him and later in the hospital he died of his wounds.
Lt. Col Arnaud did something heroic that day when he took the place of a hostage, giving his life for hers. When he woke up that day he did not know that he would be called to lay down his life, but when it came, he was ready. He was a faithful catholic who practiced regularly with his wife. His courage and strength would have come from the command and example of Jesus Christ who laid down his life for us. I wonder if he heard Jesus’ words as he contemplated sacrificing his life, “Love one another as I have loved you.” Whether he did or not, he fulfilled the commandment, and today we pray he has received his reward.
We are called to follow the same commandment as Lt Col. Arnaud, if the situation should ever come. Would you be willing? Would you be ready? Would you be able to what he did, love how Jesus loved, and lay down your life for your friends? If you don’t know the answer to that question, don’t worry, because I don’t think I can answer with certainty myself. The point is not that we are ready right now, the point is that we live our lives aiming for that as a goal. We live our lives as if we would be ready to lay them down. And if day in and day out we sacrifice for others little by little then, we approach that goal of being able to lay down our lives for our friends.
When I was younger I thought that Catholics had it easy because we didn’t have as many rules as other religions, but through a friend I came to realise that we are called to something even higher, to lay down our lives for our friends. It isn’t easy, it isn’t simple, but the pathway to heaven never is.
“This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.”