TO LOVE ALL PEOPLE
(A biblical refection on THE SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER [YEAR C] – 26 May 2019)
Gospel Reading: John 14:23-29
First Reading: Acts 15:1-2,22-29; Psalms: Psalm 67:2-3,5-6,8; Second Reading: Revelation 21:10-14,22-23
The Scripture Text
Jesus answered him, “If a man loves Me, he will keep My words, and My Father will love him, and we will come to him and make Our home with him. He who does not love Me does not keep My words; and the word which you hear is not mine but the Father’s who sent Me.
These things I have spoken to you, while I am still with you. But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. Peace I leave with you; My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid. You heard Me say to you, ‘I go away, and I will come to you.’ If you loved Me, you would have rejoiced, because I go to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you before it takes place, so that when it does take place, you may believe.” (John 14:23-29 RSV)
Two people who love each other naturally want to make each other happy. A husband who knows his wife likes freshly cut flowers will occasionally surprise her with a dozen red roses. If he knows she gets furious when he watches football games all weekend, he tries to limit his time sitting in front of the television set so he can spend more time with her. She, for her part, will try not to wake him on a Saturday morning because she knows he likes to sleep in. She’ll prepare his favorite meal once in a while, just because.
As if in a married relationship with God, we should base that relationship on love. Just as a husband and wife communicate their likes and dislikes to each other, we communicate our likes and dislikes to God, and God communicates His likes and dislikes to us.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that if we love Him we will be true to His word and that the person who does not love Him will not keep His word. In this passage, Jesus tells us how to show our love for Him, revealing what pleases and displeases Him. The key to this passage, then, is in understanding what it means to be true to Jesus’ word.
When we take a good look at what Jesus said and did, we find a single motivation behind every one of His words and actions. Loving all people, even those who are not lovable, is at the heart of Jesus’ life and message. Therefore, we should understand being true to Jesus’ word to mean we must love others like Jesus loves them. That sounds simple but in reality it’s not always easy.
Knowing that loving others may sometimes be difficult, Jesus promises in today’s Gospel to send us a Paraclete, the Holy Spirit. A paraclete is someone who stands beside someone else. When we have to do something difficult or scary, it helps to have someone at our side with whom we can share our fears and anxieties, someone who will encourage us and give us support. Jesus sends us His Spirit because peer pressures and fears about what others will think about us may make it difficult for us to be the loving individuals He wants us to be. The Holy Spirit helps us to love when love is not easy.
(Adapted from Jerome J. Sabatowich, Cycling Through the Gospels – Gospel Commentaries for Cycles A, B, and C, pages 268-269.)
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, remind me of one person in my life whom I find difficult to love. Please help me. O Paraclete, to change my attitude about this person. Help me also to love even those who are not lovable. Amen.
Jakarta, 25 May 2019
A Christian Pilgrim