May 14 2023 Reflection
Sunday 14 May 2023
First Reading: Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Let all the earth cry out to God with joy.
Ps 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20
Second Reading: 1 Pt 3:15-18
Gospel Reading: Jn 14:15-21
Today’s Note: Sixth Sunday of Easter
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
What makes us both fully human and truly like God? Is it not unconditional love which is unselfish, undying, and wholly directed to the good of others? The love of God unites us in an unbreakable bond of fidelity, friendship, and community with others. Jesus loved his own until the very end of his passion and death on the cross (John 13:1).
The nature of love
From the very beginning of creation God said: it is not good that man should be alone (Genesis 2:18). We were created in love for love – to be a community of loving persons, just as the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are inseparably united in a community of unbreakable love.
John Henry Newman (1801-1890) said: We love because it is our nature to love, and it is our nature because God the Holy Spirit has made it our nature. Jesus speaks to his disciples of the inseparable bound of love between himself and the Father, and of their love for humankind. In Jesus we see the fulness of God’s love and how God’s love is directed to our well-being. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him (1 John 4:9).
Knowing God’s love
How do we know that God truly loves each one of us? In the cross we see the proof of God’s love for each of us and the incredible price God was willing to pay to redeem us from slavery to sin, death, and Satan. Jesus gave up his life that we might have life – abundant, everlasting life with God – a life of love and unity with the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit forever.
Through the cross Jesus opened a new way of relationship for us as the adopted sons and daughters of God – his beloved children (Romans 8:14-17). Jesus calls his disciples to walk in his way of love through obedience to the will of the Father. True love is more than sentiment, emotion, or good intention. As important as these may be they are not the proof of sincere love. True love for God is expressed in obedience and obedience is expressed in love.
Jesus’ best gift for us
Jesus promised to give his followers the best of gifts, the Holy Spirit as their Counselor and Helper. How does the Holy Spirit help us as the counselor? Counselor is a legal term for one who defends someone against an adversary and who guides that person during the ordeal of trial. The Holy Spirit is our Advocate and Helper who guides and strengthens us and brings us safely through the challenges and adversities we must face in this life.
The Holy Spirit is also the Giver of life – the abundant life which comes from God and which sustains us forever. The Holy Spirit also guides us in the way of truth, wisdom, and goodness. We can never stop learning because the Spirit leads us more and more into the knowledge of God’s love, truth, and goodness. Jesus also promised his followers the gift of peace. Peace is more than the absence of conflict or trouble. Peace includes everything which makes for our highest good. Trust in God, faith in his promises, and obedience to his word lead us to peace and security in God’s presence. That is why a Christian need not fear or be troubled by anything. The love of Christ brings immeasurable joy and consolation even in the midst of our trials and suffering. Paul the Apostle states,
“Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?… For I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 8:35,38-39).
Ask the Holy Spirit to fill you with the knowledge of Christ’s immense love and with his gift of peace.
O God, you are the unsearchable abyss of peace, the ineffable sea of love, the fountain of blessings and the bestower of affection, who sends peace to those who receive it. Open to us this day the sea of your love and water us with abundant streams from the riches of your grace and from the most sweet springs of your kindness. Make us children of quietness and heirs of peace; enkindle in us the fire of your love; sow in us your fear; strengthen our weakness by your power; bind us closely to you and to each other in our firm and indissoluble bond of unity. (ancient prayer from Syrian Clementine liturgy)