May 6, 2018: Sixth Sunday of Easter
Reading 1: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.”
Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God.
Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Reading 2: 1 John 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Gospel: John 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.
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.
“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. 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.”
In this month we will end our seven week continuation of the Easter celebration where every Sunday is a Sunday of Easter. Today we hear in the first reading Peter’s conversion to accepting the uncircumcised into Jesus’ new kindom. In the second reading is the astounding statement: God is love. During the whole month of May let’s pray with Mary to experience the joy Jesus felt in his resurrection.
“As God has loved me, so I also love you. I call you friends; I lay down my life for my friends.” Repeat that line out loud. Listen to your own voice saying what Jesus said. Take the time to let it sink into your heart. Jesus calls me friend! Reflect a few minutes on your own friends —-spouse, family members, intimates, members of the same team, coworkers, acquaintances. Notice how the relationship is different with different people. You might not want to play bridge with your football buddies or cook for a church dinner with a woman who serves with you on a parent-teacher board. Jesus is the only friend whom you can expect to be there for you always and in any circumstance for the rest of your life. Jesus hangs out with us 24-7?! Think of how you’ve developed the relationship with one of your friends. Was it an occasional comment in the middle of work, a particularly funny or touching experience that you just had to share with somebody; did a person read your body language and offer a hand on the shoulder? What could this way of developing friendships teach us about relating to Jesus? What does Jesus want from your friendship? Could it be that he enjoys the “you-ness”of you and just wants to be with you?
Write down the qualities you like in your friends and why you treasure them. Reflect on the way your friendships grew. Time spent together is essential. Some people become friends as you worked alongside each other, some you played with, it is the rare one where you spent long hours of intimate conversation. At lonely times you might stretch your conversation with Jesus beyond the occasional comment, funny story, need for help — to telling them him how you really feel. It is a habit that grows slowly. It is my belief that as the years of life stretch out beyond retirement, maybe even to the death of a spouse, the time comes where the only thing that can sustain us is those long intimate times with Jesus, the friend.
When we accept Jesus his love becomes immeasurable in our life because Jesus gives us a soul tie. We in turn reflect that love to others through the Holy Spirit. I have very few close friends and lost my entire family when I was quite young but I can tell you that love comes in moments like the trickle of rain it comforts and soothes and cleaness our heart and those who we experience such great bonds with can feel this connection.