BALANCE IS ESSENTIAL FOR THE CHRISTIAN LIFE
(A biblical refection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 24 April 2016)
Gospel Reading: John 13:31-35
First Reading: Acts 14:21-27; Psalms: Psalm 145:8-13; Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-5
The Scripture Text
When he (Judas) had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in Him God is glorified; if God is glorified in Him, God will also glorify Him in Himself, and glorify Him at once. Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek Me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ A new commandment I give to you that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:31-35 RSV)
Balance is essential for the Christian life. If we do not develop a healthy sense of balance and a realistic understanding of the human condition, it is for us to fall. We become disillusioned and stop growing in the love of Jesus. Our readings for this Sunday call for a sense of balance.
Jesus, in our reading from John’s Gospel, is gathered with His disciples at the Last Supper. He has washed the disciples’ feet and has explained this “parable in action”. Jesus now gives the disciples a new commandment: “Love one another. Such as My love has been for you, so must your love be for each other. This is how all will know you for My disciples; your love for one another.” These words of Jesus are quite profound and moving. However, we must wonder: Who can live up to such words? Can we really love in such a way?
Without a sense of balance we may easily rush in (like the rich young man whom Jesus asked to sell all) where prudence would counsel a more humble approach. For we must admit that our capacity to love often falls short of the example of Jesus. At times our actions give little evidence that we are the disciples of Jesus. We grow weary and greatly limit “the finer angels” which live within each of us. We know well the temptation to give up and simply go along in order to get along. The words of Jesus do nothing but frustrate us and make us aware of how greatly we fall short of God’s glory.
Are we simply better off just forgetting the words of Jesus? Not unless we also want to forget about discipleship and true peace. The command to love is not an all or nothing proposition. To love as Jesus loved is a lifelong process into which we are continually invited to grow and be matured.
Jesus spoke about love, not to cause us to despair but to inspire and empower us. None of this is easy. We must balance the all to love with realization that this involves a cost. To follow in the way of love means, in the words of Paul and Barnabas, the “We must undergo many trials/tribulations if we are to enter into the Kingdom of God” (Acts 14:22). The present trials can deepen our love and strengthen our commitment to love because He who first loved us is the One who says, “Behold, I make all things new” (Revelation 21:5). The promise of the new heaven and the new earth (Revelation 21:1) is not an idle one. It comes from the One who dwelt among us as enduring love. It comes from the One who invites us to love in the same way.
Note: Adapted from Rev. William F. Maestri, GRACE UPON GRACE, Makati, Philippines: St. Paul Publications, 1990, pages 250-251.
Prayer: Lord Jesus, You have returned to the Father’s glory. Your divine light, like the sun, is too bright for our eyes to take. But the warmth of Your presence is here for us through the mutual love of Your disciples in the Christian community who follow Your commandment to “love one another just as You have loved us”. Thank You for Your continuing presence, dear Lord Jesus. Amen.
Jakarta, 22 April 2016
A Christian Pilgrim