May 19, 2019
5th Sun of Easter
8 & 10 am & 4:30 pm
Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35
Have you ever watched a movie at home and you wanted to make sure how it got to the high point of the film so you rewound it to see what led up to that point? Well, that’s what we do on this 5th Sunday of Easter. Today’s Gospel passage is from John Chapter 13 and we rewind to Holy Thursday night, the night before Jesus is to be crucified. He is at the Last Supper speaking very intimately to His closest disciples, giving them clear instructions on how to live after what is about to take place on Calvary and after the Resurrection. The clear instructions are, “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Now this is really not new because the Old Testament (Hebrew Scriptures) talk about loving your neighbor. What is new is what Jesus says next, “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” That is the commandment to His disciples 2000 years ago and this is the commandment for us His disciples today. Love as He loved.
So if we as the disciples of Jesus are to love as He loved, what does that look like? He showed us what real love looks like as an example to follow. At that Last Supper Jesus put love into action. He put on the servant’s apron & washed the disciples’ feet. This was the lowest task in the house yet Jesus humbled Himself, stooped down and proceeded to wash all of the disciples’ feet. Not just some of them but all of them, even Peter who would deny Him 3 times and even Judas who would betray Him. This is a clear message for us that we must love all, even those difficult to love.…Then He willingly took the scourging, the ridicule and the humiliation and willingly was nailed to the Cross, not just for some but for all who would accept Him. Why? To show us what real love looks like: self-sacrifice, self-giving, self-emptying. Love is willing the good of the other, for the sake of the other, without expecting anything in return. St. Pope John Paul II said, “We must die to ourselves in order to will the good of another person.” Jesus showed us how for an example to follow.
But what does real, sacrificial, self-less, Christ-like love look like today? We seen one real-life example of what it looks like in the recent school shooting in Colorado. Where the young Kendrick Castillo lunged at the shooter and was fatally shot but gave his class mates enough time to hide and to live. Kendrick risked and gave his life for the sake of the other. His father John said about his son, “I know that because of what he did, others are alive and I thank God for that. I love him. And he is a hero and always will be.” Kendrick showed us real love, sacrificial love in imitating the Cross of Christ…I love the photo of him and his dad in their blue Knights of Columbus aprons serving at a meal at the parish. Kendrick was also an altar server & was known as the Hospitality Minister with a big smile. You see, Kendrick learned real love, sacrifice and service from his parents and from his Catholic faith.
But that is a dramatic case, hopefully something we will not have to face. Nevertheless Jesus calls all of us to this sacrificial, self-giving love. So what does it look like in our daily lives? Let’s start with marriage. There was a young couple who just got married and they were celebrating with family and friends at the reception. And it came time for the “garter toss”. So the young bride sat on a chair in the middle of the dance floor and her new husband took a knee at her feet. All the single guys lined up hooping and hollering! *But to everyone’s surprise a pitcher of water with a bowl and a towel were brought to the groom. And instead of taking off the garter he took off her shoes & washed his wife’s feet. Symbolizing he would try to be to her the Servant Christ. In marriage the husband and wife are to serve each other, for the sake of the other, not expecting or wanting anything in return. They are to love each other as Christ loves them. Not just on the wedding day but every day and every year after that, in small, sacrificial ways for the rest of their lives.
Young people, what does real, sacrificial love look like for you? Maybe letting your brother or sister go first, or picking up their dirty dishes from the dinner table, or letting them play with your stuff (Nintendo switch). Maybe it means obeying your parents and doing your chores or homework without complaining or having to be told a 100 times. When you do these things even though you don’t feel like it, that’s sacrificial, real love.
For those of you who are single or married, what does this love look like in our church community? Self-giving, sacrificial love is put into action by living Stewardship, the 3 T’s. Stewardship is living as Christ calls us to by serving the church and community in some way, by offering your Time and Talent for the sake of the other. Christ-like love put into action is offering a portion of our treasure each week for the Church and it’s mission. Whatever we do for the sake of the other in our own family, here in our Church family or out in the community we are loving as Christ loves us. We are washing the others feet as Christ.
“Love one another as I have loved you.” It sounds simple. Simple, but not easy! Living a life of service and sacrifice for the sake of the other is definitely not easy. Why? Because it requires us to continuously fight against our flesh. Our flesh, our selfishness no way wants to serve the other. It wants to serve me! The only way we can live this love that Jesus calls us to is in and through Him. In the 2nd reading from Revelation a loud voice from the heavenly throne proclaimed, “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.” The Risen Lord is here in our midst! The more we empty ourselves of “self” and the more we fill ourselves with Christ, the more we will be able to love as He loves.
But why would we even want to try to live this way if it is so difficult? First of all because it is the true path to peace and to joy. But also, by living as Christ in sacrificial love, we glorify God. Jesus’ last words in today’s Gospel, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” If you have Christ’s love in you and it comes out in action people will know that there is something different about you. They will see Christ in you and it will draw them to know Him also.
Love without action is just lip service (meaningless). But love with action in & through Christ for the sake of the other is fulfilling the new commandment…We are in the upper room and Jesus is speaking to each of us and He has given us clear instructions on how to live, “Love as I have loved you.”