“My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” A simple message for each of us to ponder this fifth Sunday of Easter, but is it really that simple? Do we really understand the responsibilities that come with loving one another?
Think about what Jesus said to His disciples, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Last week, was Good Shepherd Sunday and we reflected on the meaning of what it takes to be a good shepherd. For one to be a good shepherd there must be a willingness to lay ones life down for ones sheep. Jesus did that for us, laid down His very life for each of us on the cross. The cross is the means and the way but it is not the end. Today’s invitation to us from God is to model that example of love and demonstrate it back to Him by our willingness to lay down our lives for each other.
One way we demonstrate our love is by our willingness to share the truth. In today’s world we have become too timid. When it comes to our faith, we cannot allow ourselves to be cold or lukewarm, but on fire. The Church is not a cafeteria where one picks and chooses what want one wants to accept and believe. We must accept the entire package. There is a distinction between those who accept the teachings of Christ but struggle to live it, and those who outright reject it. For those of us who accept the teachings of Christ and His Church but struggle daily to live it, this is where we belong. The Church was never meant to be a safe haven for Saints but rather a hospital and refuge for sinners. We demonstrate our faith each time we step up to the plate and utilize the gifts He has given us such as the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Utilizing the sacrament of reconciliation frequently demonstrates our openness not only to receiving God’s mercy but also our receptiveness and our recognition of the truth.
Jesus never rejects anyone…the Church never rejects anyone. It is the individuals themselves who often reject Christ and the Church, but it’s never Christ or the Church who rejects them. Our Lord presents us with the truth and it is up to us whether or not we wish to accept. Jesus today gives us a command: “love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” Are we ready to experience rejection and ridicule for our faith? Are we willing to lay down our lives for those we love, showing them the way to heaven as Christ did for us?
As we leave here today may we never forget that to love means a willingness on our part to sacrifice ourselves! The only way we can experience the true resurrection when our journey on this earth is complete is if we openly accept our portion of the cross which has been given us. No cross…no resurrection! May we keep this in mind from today’s first reading, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God!” In other words…no pain, no gain! Therefore, let us love one another following our Lord’s example!