Homily April 24, 2016 the 5th Sunday of Easter
Today’s gospel seems for a moment to be out-of-place. Suddenly we are brought back to Holy Thursday and the last supper. Judas has just left to betray Jesus, and we see he is aware of what is coming. He knows that his death is imminent and would glorify his Father. Like anyone taking leave, Jesus at that moment was troubled and concerned for his disciples. Strikingly, Jesus here in John’s gospel sums up what he has been about before his final discourses at the last supper. With such short time, He gave one command, love one another. Loving each other as he loved them is what makes them his disciples. Faith and love go hand in hand. Love is what sets a person apart and makes them stand out. In earlier times when Abraham and Moses encountered Yahweh and the commandments were given, love then was the center yet over time and centuries humanity would seek the convenience of making rules and laws to make it “easy” to follow. In Jesus’ time the law had in many ways come to obscure what Yahweh originally intended and possessed an importance above and beyond the good of a person and the people themselves.
Jesus himself condemned the leaders who were bound up in ritual and rules and anything that pushed the people away from God. Their office and position had become so important to them that like their ancestors before them a prophet bringing the word of God was scorned and driven out and even killed. That is why Jesus had to emphasize his command at that most troubling moment for him. The command to love is eternal. Love was present before the world began and it will continue into eternity and never end. It is a seed planted in every being and grows and blossoms only insofar as we nourish it and fertilize and water it, so to speak. God’s love is open to all, at all times and is ready to receive us when we properly dispose ourselves for him.
As believers, we should work to never forget this and remember that loving means many things, but never should it mean that it places something in the believers path to God. Rank, position, function, all are eclipsed by the fact that there is one Lord, One God. We are all called to live and work and pray together for what we seek. God want love, not buildings, laws, unhappiness, or violence or hate. His mark on the earth is love and our mark and seal is that we love one another.