Sixth SUNDAY OF EASTER
JESUS ENUMERATES REALITIES OF AUTHENTIC LOVE
The beauty of Eastertide is that the Easter celebration does not just end on the morning of the Easter resurrection. The rest of the Fifty Days of Easter continues to unravel the meaning of this saving event.
In John’s Gospel of this Sixth Sunday of Easter, Jesus enhances the core meaning of Easter, which is love. From Jesus’ teaching on love, it is clear that any authentic love must have its root in God because God is Love (Deus Caritas Est – Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI.) To deepen this message, Jesus reminds his disciples, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.” Here Jesus makes it clear that no love can be truly honest and authentic unless that love comes from his Fa-ther, hence, “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. To remain in my love means to remain in God’s love because Jesus and his Father are one. Jesus stresses that one of the basic characteristics of the love between him and his Father is to keep God’s Commandments. This is why he emphasized that “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father's Commandments and remain in his love.” Often, we are tempted to justify why we fail to keep God’s Commandments – like I am weak, the Commandments are too difficult to keep, I made a mistake or God will understand. All these excuses are not necessary to love God and keep his Commandments. When we fall short of God’s Commandments, we should humbly go to confession and ask for his mercy and for-giveness. We should never try to justify our sins or simply presume that God will understand – remember the gift of free will, which every human being has?
We may ask the question here: how is it that Jesus made love the cardinal point of his mission? He answers the question this way, “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.” Christ shows that Love is everything. Love cares, love does not harbor hatred, love forgives, love is selfless, love is patient, love is honest and seeks the truth. A learned theologian, Saint Augustine says, “Love, and do what you will.” Because he knows that one cannot love and do wrong intentionally.
Jesus caps his enumeration of love with this fundamental reason why his Father sent him for our redemption. He reminds his disciples as well as we Christians that,” No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another." My brothers and Sisters, God is Love. he knows our hearts. Where does your heart lie? In good or in bad? Let us work hard to let our hearts always lie in good, and then when we drift with good intentions, Jesus, as he promised his disciples will always be there for us. But we must remember that our human efforts alone are insufficient to love. Therefore, we must daily in prayer always seek and ask for divine guidance in this spiritual pursuit. Amen!
Father Uche Obikwelu