We celebrated Easter Sunday a few weeks ago, and there are two more Easter Sundays ahead of us (Ascension and Pentecost) before we return to Ordinary Time. The Church, as I have mentioned before, celebrates Easter for 50 days. What a beautiful liturgical season! Our daily and Sunday Masses and prayers all reflect an Easter theme. They are filled with Alleluias. Alleluia, He is risen!
The Gospel for this, the sixth Sunday of Easter, is filled with beautiful thoughts and images. The depth of Christ’s love becomes more evident and explicit. The Gospel passage contains one of my most cherished challenges: “Love one another as I have loved you.”
This is called a new commandment because Jesus previously told us to love our neighbors as ourselves. That’s possible for us to do, but being able to love as Jesus does, “Love one another as I have loved you…” is really asking a lot. Jesus is God. Can we even begin to ove as God loves? With the help of the Holy Spirit, who dwells within us and seeks to transform us into being like Christ, the answer is YES, we can.
One of the ways Christ has loved us is He laid down His life for us, both literally and figuratively. Can any of us do that for someone? Yes, if we will. I write not of a literal sacrifice of a breathing life, but of an analogous sacrifice of life. Ithink of people who sacrifice their time and their energy to serve those who are most marginalized and vulnerable in our society; the unborn, the truly poor, the aged and infirm, the sick, the hungry, the homless, the unemployed, etc.
When Jesus speaks to us of the new commandment, He speaks about giving ourselves for the benefit of another, as He did for all of us. When Jesus speaks to us the new commandment, He speaks about how we are to act toward one another. This is the Paschal Mystery: dying to self and living for another.
This is loving as Jesus loves.