A blessed Sixth Sunday of Easter to you and yours! Today we celebrate the God of Love, commemorated so elegantly in the First Letter of St. John:
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins (1 John 4: 7-10).
I’ve seen this read in a number of contexts against Saint Paul’s meditation on love in the 13th chapter of his first letter to the Corinthians, in which he contends that,
Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, [love] is not pompous, it is not inflated,
it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury,
it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth.
It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.
Love never fails. If there are prophecies, they will be brought to nothing; if tongues, they will cease; if knowledge, it will be brought to nothing (1 Cor 13: 4-8).
Using a deductive logic, it would make sense that, if God is love, then God is also all of these things. God is patient, God is kind, God is not jealous, is not inflated. God is not rude, does not seek his own interests, is not quick tempered, does not brood over injury, does not rejoice in wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. God bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Most poignantly, God never fails.
This is the God I pray to every day. This is the God I visit in the Tabernacle at Catholic Churches. This is the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob–the God of our Fathers. As my parish priest (who is a Saint in the making) often reminds me, this is the God that never tires of forgiving us of our sins. And this is also the God of today’s Gospel, the God who laid down his life for us, his friends:
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another” (John 15: 9-7).
As modern-day Christians, who live in the shadow of Christ’s Passion and Resurrection, we can’t help but read this passage in a doubled sense: first as Christ’s love for the world, Christ’s act of “laying down his life for his friends,” but also a call to lay down our life for others, as St. Maximilian Kolbe did for a stranger at Auschwitz.
And, as the Pastor of our Parish reminded us yesterday, this is a call to die to self in service to others so that we might serve Christ as he served us.
God will never stop loving you because God is love, a love marked by patience, kindness, selflessness, and forgiveness. I hope that you encounter this God today–and every day.
In Christ, who is love,