The Gospel today, taken from the final discourse Jesus had with his disciples on Holy Thursday; is centred on love. Here we have Jesus repeating his command to love, but this love is not from some romantic novel. This is a love where one gives of oneself, completely and without counting.

Jesus tells the disciples where this love comes from. This love comes from the Father. Jesus gives an example of how we can demonstrate our love; quite simply he says that if we wish to remain in Christ’s love then we will keep his commandments. Jesus cites his own example of how He has remained in the Father’s love, he kept the father’s commandments, therefore we must follow this example. We are also to follow the example Jesus had given before he started speaking. Jesus washed the feet of his disciples, another sign of that pure love, a love with service at the heart of it. Jesus the master, got down on his hands and knees and washed the feet of his disciples. When I see our priest do this on Holy Thursday, I find this to be such a moving Liturgy. Remembering that Jesus was aware of what was going to happen to him; yet He carried on teaching and setting examples for us; loving us.

In our first reading today, it is a pity that we could not have had the full version. I would encourage everyone to read all of chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles. In there we hear how God ensured that the Gentiles would be called and accepted as people of God. In the abridged version used in our Mass this weekend we get just a glimpse of this; and are made aware that the Gentiles received the Holy Spirit and were baptised in the presence of Peter. This is when Peter realised that all people are open to the call of God. We have been chosen by God.

This is emphasised in the Gospel as we hear Jesus say that we did not choose him, He chose us; just as He chose to die on the cross for us. Thus demonstrating [and again, giving us the example] the greatest love of all, is where a man or a woman lays down their life for another person.

When we read Scriptures, or listen to them during our Liturgy, we are not doing so blindly or in a vacuum. Scriptures are meant to be digested in order to  change us. This Gospel, being about love, calls us to love. So, what does that mean for us as individuals and as Parish Communities when we look out at the wider community we live in? For me, as a deacon, it prompts and drives me to look out for the unloved, the lonely, the poor in our society. Those on the peripheries; they may have addictions; they may have poor mental health. I am called to love them without judgement. As a deacon I am called to serve them and take Jesus to them.

Today, we are all challenged to ask ourselves, what does God want me to do?

How does He want me to share his love with my neighbour?

We also need to be aware that love is not a feeling, to love is a decision. Every time we see someone in need, we have a choice to make. Do I go and help them, or do I walk on by, on the other side of the road? This can be as simple as do I sit and watch TV while Pam is folding the washing, or do I go and help her so that we can watch TV together? Or the times when I am tired and realise I have made a commitment to meet someone, do I go or make excuses?

In the second reading we hear that God is love and we are encouraged to love one another. We already know that we are made in the image and likeness of God, so therefore we are made in the image and likeness of Love. We are created to love and to reflect that love to everyone we meet. As Christians we are called to love until it hurts; and again, Jesus gave us the perfect example of this on the Cross.

Today we can choose to ask ourselves when was the last time I loved someone so much that it hurt? Or we can simply choose to just get on with our day, walking along on the other side of the road.

Further Reading

The Catechism of the Catholic Church

Sixth Sunday of Easter

CCC 2746-2751: Christ’s prayer at the Last Supper
CCC 214, 218-221, 231, 257, 733, 2331, 2577: God is love
CCC 1789, 1822-1829, 2067, 2069: love of God and neighbour fulfils the Commandments
CCC 2347, 2709: friendship with Christ

Please keep in your prayers this week

  • The sick and housebound, those who are lonely, those who are dying and those who are grieving.
  • Those affected by war, those affected by crime and those trying to help these people.
  • The people of Sudan and the neighbouring countries who are trying to help alleviate the effects of famine.
  • Our young people who were Confirmed by Bishop Philip last week and our young people who will be celebrating their First Holy Communion in the next few weeks. May we as their Church family and their families and loved ones be good examples for all of them.
  • Those who find it difficult to love because the decision is too painful for them.

Deacon Tony 4th May 2024