Saturday, May 8, 2021

Only Love can Transcend

Sixth Sunday of Easter: 09 May 2021

 Readings: Acts 10:25–26, 34–35, 44–48; Psalm 98:1–4; 1 John 4:7–10; John 15:9–17

(Photo courtesy: Jean-Marc Arakelian)

1. In love the mystery of salvation is revealed

For the last two weeks, we have been reading 5 chapters (10-15) from the Gospel of St John. The Evangelist is focusing his attention on the person of Jesus Christ. For him, Jesus is the true light whom we must follow; he is the good shepherd who gives us his pastures; he is the vine and we are the branches; he is our friend and will give his life for us; he is the life and the resurrection and we have to remain with him to rise again. “This is my commandment: love one another, as I have loved you.” These and many more beautiful sayings St John elucidates in the discourse of Jesus. 

The theme of "Love" is central to the Christian life - love of God ("Remain in my love" 15:9) and love of neighbour ("This is my commandment: Love one another as I have loved you" 15:12). In fact, today's reading could be placed as a central part of Jesus' Farewell Discourse which we have been reading for the last two weeks. The kind of love that Jesus is speaking about is self-emptying, selfless love. Love is expressed in friendship. With a close friend, you share everything. God is love, and He revealed that love in sending His only Son to be a sacrificial offering for our sins. Perhaps you might like to talk to God today in your own words, what does it mean to you having a kind of friendship with Jesus.  It would be good to talk during your prayer about the ways you would like that friendship with Jesus to deepen.      

2. Expression of our love shown here on earth. 

In Christ Jesus, we find a perfect human person because of the kind of language he spoke and the actions he performed. Jesus’ farewell discourse that we have been reading for a while tells no less about us than Jesus. Jesus gives us practical guidelines with metaphors and symbols on how best love can be expressed and shared with God and with our fellow brothers and sisters.  Fascinatingly, St John presents to us three things about Jesus. Firstly, how to be human, secondly, how to love God and one's fellow neighbour, thirdly, how to live an authentic Christian life of love.

Love is not just a feeling or emotion, something to give and to take.  The Christian love is called agapeic love, a selfless love that is expressed in radical commitment. This kind of love is made visible in Jesus Christ. We are called to love like Jesus in the words of St John, his close disciple. For Jesus, real intimacy with his disciples was to put them first even at great personal cost. So too, Jesus commands us to put others first in our priorities.  

3. Only love is credible

Usually, in literature love is expressed in poetic and symbolic ways. So too, St John uses a similar pattern in communicating the expression of Jesus’ love for us. However, Jesus does not idealize the concept of love but challenges the very idea of love itself. Love has to be real and not an abstract concept to be understood only through poems or images. Jesus demonstrates to us the idea of love through a way of friendship and intimacy. Through his friendship, Jesus loves us limitlessly. He does not complicate our relationship with him instead it is we who complicate ourselves in loving him because of our lack of faith, stubbornness, selfishness, and rigidity. Jesus’ words are simple and clear:  “As the Father loves me, so I also love you” (Jn 15:9)

Jesus’ invitation to share in his love is unambiguous. He does not stay afar and look at us as an observer or an umpire in a cricket match. He calls us who are imperfect, sinful, stupid and even sometimes mischievous and boisterous. The gentle words of Jesus should touch us “remain in my love.” This means in the daily chores, struggles, efforts and activities of this world we have to be faithful to him; we need to encounter him in such mundane things. Thus we become aware that Jesus is truly our friend and a neighbour who accompanies us and walks with us. 

4. Only love can transcend

Love means choosing or making the right choices with joy. In Christ, we have made a right choice. However, Jesus says  “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.” Perhaps you want to know more about what exactly you've been chosen for.  More specifically, more immediately, how can you live out the gift you’ve been given, this friendship with Christ, in the day facing you?  Love is sharing and it's a mutual sharing without counting or complaining. In other words, love is unlimited joy in caring and sharing.   “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete” (Jn 15:11)  The goal of our being with Jesus is that we may “go and bear great fruit that will remain.” 

Perhaps, during this COVID pandemic times, we may lighten up ourselves and remain in his love.  It could be as simple as being kinder to those around us. Stop being crabby and judgmental.  Not assume that my way is the correct way, that my beliefs are true, no matter how ardently I believe them. As we see in the first reading from the book of Genesis, once Abraham heard God’s voice, he never turned back. He was ready even to offer his son Issac in order to please God. Therefore, Abraham was called not only the Father of Faith but also a friend of God. (Genesis 22:16–18). If we remain in God’s love and hear his good news then the Spirit will come and rest upon us and allow us to speak in tongues, glorifying God (Acts 2:5–11).

Question for reflections

1. I ask myself, when have I been the recipient of love? When have I shown real love to another? And what was the effect?   

2. I take a few moments to be thankful for God’s great love, and for the love of those around me. And then I ponder… is there a situation, in my family, neighbourhood, parish, workplace, society, requiring me, even today, to make a real, selfless, act of love? 

3. When is the last time I met Jesus as my friend in my prayer?

4.  Do I meet Jesus in my prayer as I do my other friends?

5. Jesus says "remain in me.” How do I take up this mantle he has given me? How can I shape my life to follow Jesus’ example of loving more closely?  Maybe praying for or working to help the poor and marginalized around us. 

6. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”  Can I see how this saying might have meaning for me, in my life?  


Loving Jesus, help me to humbly accept your love for me. Let me feel it deep in my heart and trust in it enough to be bold as I carry it into my daily life.  Soften my heart in my beliefs and let me listen to you and to others around me. Help me to remain in your love. Lord, help me to say yes to you today. Yes, to your choice of me; yes, to your offer of friendship; yes, to joyful service; yes, to the mission to go into the world and love it and so bear a fruit that will last. Amen. 

- Olvin Veigas, SJ

08 May 2021

PS: I have written a blogpost on Kahaya/Concoction, a remedy that helps to keep our throat clean and disinfected during this corona pandemic, which I have been doing since August 2020. Please read it on this link 


Joilin said...

Hi Olvin,
Hope all is well with you. I've been awaiting your reflections on this special day. The whole world is upside down. In the midst of fear and trembling of this deadly pandemic, your reflections brings a great hope to raise our hearts and minds to God who is Omnipotent and Omniscient to save us from all evil and dark powers. Yes, all your points under each head is apt and appreciative. It's really a good reflections. Thanks again!

Lovya said...

My deepest gratitude to this blog for such an inspirational reflections! Words have the power to change the world. Yes, dear Olvin, every word is full of wisdom and energetic. Thanks alot for speaking your heart out and your reflections inpires millions. That's great!

Uday said...

Like the reflective questions!

Anonymous said...

Dear father,
Thank you for the enriching reflections during the retreat. That was really helpful and revived me.
Do thank you for sharing your reflections today too.

Anonymous said...

Beautifully explained,thank so much for sharing

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much Good and enriching message of love.

Anonymous said...

This is so good Fr. Olvin. Visuals really connect to the homily we hear out.

Anonymous said...

Thank you Fr
Beautiful reflection Fr
Very creatively u have done Fr. Interesting.

Anonymous said...

Thank you, father. As I am here in London forwarding many of my English friends here. They love to follow your reflections father
God’s blessings are more on you father. Take care of your health too. My sincere prayers

Johnvi said...

Hey Olvin, great news your reflections are! Do you know the secret of your reflections here? It touched so well to live the life here and now. So fascinating your message is! Thank you.