May 9, 2021
At the Last Supper Jesus talks with his Apostles.
What were they talking about???
The answer is ...
Sometimes we think only in worldly terms as to what it means to love. We all know how easy it is to love the person we respect, or the person who looks nice and dresses well, or the person who goes along with what we think and believe.
But this Sunday's readings challenge us to move in another direction; to love those outside our own comfort zone.
This is something that at first seems impossible.
In the first reading we hear of Peter going out of his comfort zone.
Shortly before this reading, he has had a vision, showing him that what God has made clean he must not reject. This was dealing with what his Jewish background taught him about food.
Peter now goes to the household of a Gentile, a non Jew, Cornelius, a Roman centurion. Everyone knew that you do not associate with these unclean gentiles, yet Peter goes to speak with this household, much as Jesus associated with the dirty, the gentiles and the sinner, with everyone.
Peter experiences the great faith that Cornelius, a gentile, and his household have and Peter sees that they are to be baptized.
What a change from what the Jewish traditions of the first Christians insisted upon that you have to follow the Jewish religious laws. It is interesting that this became a dividing point for the primitive Church.
The Christians who have converted from Judaism were insisting that gentiles who want to follow the Christian way, must first become Jews and follow Jewish ritual.
In fact, the first Council of Jerusalem gathers and were inspired to say no to this idea.
All could become Christian and follow Christ without becoming Jews. This change must have been difficult for many, just as today we have seen that changes are difficult for many.
But the Holy Spirit continues to lead the Church, now as it did in primitive times.
What a great example of showing love to those gentiles, that in the Jewish society of the time, were considered unclean and rejected.
In the second reading St. John, tells the community that it is this love that Jesus has given them that makes God present in the world. That love is to be for everyone, even the enemy, even the one who wants to destroy us, whether physically, mentally, or spiritually. That becomes the real challenge for all of us.
In the Gospel reading, which is part of the discourse that Jesus gave at the Last Supper, speaks of love and how important that is for his followers. He demonstrated with his Passion and death, what this love really is. A love that to the world would seem ridiculous; love to all, even the enemy.
You can't be serious!
How is this possible for us?
We live in a world much like that of the primitive Church, in the respect of thinking that it is stupid to die for the enemy.
Certainly, many could not understand how Jesus, after hours of suffering could forgive and love those who were the enemy.
Yet, Jesus clearly says that He has chosen the Apostle, and also us, to make this love present in the world even today.
To die for the other may not be a physical dying, but a psychological dying.
To show compassion, forgiveness, mercy, tolerance, patience, etc, can at moments, be ways for us to die for the enemy, e.g. the one we find difficult at the moment.
For sure, there will be moments we fail at this love, but the way to grow in this direction is to recognize that we don't love the enemy, and not to just dismiss the lack of love by thinking, well, no one could love in this way, after all, I am not Christ.
But wait one moment. In our baptism we, like the Apostles at the Last Supper, are called to make God present in the world by the same love that Christ demonstrated.
When we fail, and we will at times, but it is important to continue to pray for our own conversion, so that on our deathbed we can forgive and love even the ones who have hurt us.
We can and will do this because....
Christ is Risen, Alleluia
Christ is Truly Risen, Alleluia