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Daily Archives: May 18, 2019

ALL MEN WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER

ALL MEN WILL KNOW THAT YOU ARE MY DISCIPLES, IF YOU HAVE LOVE FOR ONE ANOTHER

(A biblical refection on THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 19 May 2019)

Gospel Reading: John 13:31-33,34-35 

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)

Some groups have secret handshakes to distinguish members from non-members and other groups have emblems or distinctive uniforms. The followers of Jesus also have something to set them apart from the crowd, their love for each other. Today’s Gospel reading ends with Jesus telling the apostles that their love for one another will the way other people know they are His disciples. Love is supposed to be what separates them from those who do not believe in Jesus.

A problem arises because the English language uses the one word, love, to describe a wide variety of experiences. We sometimes think of love as a feeling, but we can also use this word to describe many different types of relationships (e.g. the relationship between a parent and child, the relationship between a husband and wife). This little four letter word can have several different definitions depending on the context within which we use it. With so many possible meanings, how can we know for certain what Jesus had in mind when He spoke the words in today’s Gospel?

Although Jesus did not speak English, He may have known three different languages: Hebrew (the official language of the Jewish people), Aramaic (the everyday language of the people of Palestine), and Greek (the language of the Roman Empire). Of these three languages, Greek will be the most helpful in determining the type of love Jesus was talking about because it is the language of the New Testament.

There are several different Greek words for our one word “love”, including philia, a love that describes the relationship between two friends; eros, sexual love; and agape, a self-giving love. Of these three different words for love, agape is the one we most frequently find on the lips of Jesus. It is also the word for love in today’s Gospel.

Agape is a love that focuses on the needs of the other person. It is freely given without counting the cost and without thinking of getting anything in return. Agape looks beyond physical beauty, color of skin, political beliefs, and status. It means reaching out to all people even if they are repulsive or if society considers them worthless. It is the love that should be the hallmark of every Christian.

“See how they love each other!” was the way the non-Christians described the early followers of Jesus. Would non-Christians today say that about your parish community, and other basic Christian communities you belong as a member? 

(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 266-267.)

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, 17 May 2019 

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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ANYONE WHO SEES JESUS SEES THE FATHER

Today’s Gospel Reading: John 14:7-14 – 4th WEEK OF EASTER: Saturday, 18 May 2019

Jesus said that that anyone who sees Him sees the Father. That must have been incredibly good news to Philip and the other apostles. They could gaze on Jesus and see God Himself. But what about today? How will people today see God? In us! Jesus lives in us, His followers, and when people see us, they should see Jesus and the Father.

Such a truth may take us aback. How can I teach with the authority that Jesus showed? Yet it is often in the simplest of things that people can see Jesus in us. A kind word, a smile, an encouraging gesture, a charitable act in time of need, an offered prayer – such little acts go a lot further than we often think. As we simply go about living our Christian lives as Christ wills and the Church guides, we really can reveal Jesus and the Father to others.

A story illustrates this point. a young wife and mother took her ill husband from New York to Italy, hoping the change of climate would do him good. Soon after they arrived, however, the man died. Now a widow, the young woman stayed on in the home of friends of the family. Over the months, this family’s life reflected the love and kindness of Jesus through their prayer, hospitality, and daily interactions. The woman was so affected by the witness of this family that she decided to become Catholic when she returned home. In the years that followed, her witness brought other women to Christ, and together they opened the first Catholic school in the United States. All that because Elizabeth Ann Seton saw Jesus in one family in Italy?

How powerful can be our simple witness of Christian love and kindness to others! There is a time for signs and wonders to demonstrate God’s power, and Jesus can accomplish those remarkable works through us, too. But most of the time it’s the “ordinary” expressions of love and kindness that allow others to see God in us. And when they see God, they see a Father who loves them with an everlasting love.

Jakarta, 18 May 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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MATTHEW 7:7 [KJV]

Jakarta, 18 May 2019

A Christian Pilgrim

 

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