6th Sunday of Easter - That Your Joy May be Complete

We cannot share what we have not first received. After the Resurrection the great news that the apostles proclaimed was very simple. Peter puts it all into context in today's First Reading, "God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him." Love is not something we create.  It is instead a gift from God. It is a gift given. But once given it remains a gift only if it is shared.

supper disciplesJesus understood his ministry in terms of setting people free. He was never concerned about winning back God's friendship or changing God's mind about His people. Rather all of his words and activities were about changing people's minds and hearts. It is about changing people's thoughts and images about God and how they see themselves in relation to him and to one another.

We are all influenced by our own likes or dislikes, our own preferences or prejudices. Loving as Jesus loved is how others will know that we are his followers.

It is not easy to love. It is not easy to put another's needs before our own.  Yet in God's plan of things, we are called to be a people whose quiet, patient and sometimes turbulent lives speak loudly about this overwhelming and unending love.

Jesus was a champion to those on the fringe. He was considered by some to be a prophet, a rabbi and teacher.  To those in mainstream religion he was a very troublesome embarrassment.  To those who came to know Him well he was the Son of God.

His life was one big embrace.  Jesus lived to bring hope, peace, and compassion. He came to set people free from fear and ignorance. He died for those in prison, for the homeless, for the poor, the prostitutes and sinners, the rejected and the despised. He healed those possessed, the leprous, the dying. He loved them as much as he loved all.

And His command to love one another takes on a communal character in our lives as we struggle each day together in our journey of faith.  By so doing he asks us to become instruments of something we didn't fully expect and of something we can never fully understand. On our journey we meet many ordinary people that we may find easy to love.  But there are others we simply don't take to. We do meet people who have deeply hurt us and those whom we actively dislike. That's the journey we are taking.

The message of Jesus is quite simple: Love God and love each other. There is no need for us to refine, redefine or wrap this message with our own theological concepts of what he was talking about.  There are no rules and regulations for this love. It is God's Spirit that enables us to experience God’s love and then find ways we can best express it to others.

The message remains, and the challenge is still before us: remain in my love, stay with me and learn from me. We will each have to find our own way to “remain” in Christ's love.  It is a journey that leads us to the kingdom that this risen Jesus invites us to experience so that our joy may be complete.