6th Sunday of Easter-Cycle B-2009 Acts of the Apostles 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.” Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
1 John 4:7-10
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.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
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.”
Today we meet Jesus giving us the great commandment to love one another. Not only are we to love one another but we are to love another as Jesus Himself has loved us. This is truly helpful because so often in this life we get confused about love and far too often think of it as feeling good about someone. When we see how Jesus loves, then we can understand how we are to love.
In the Gospels, over and over, we see Jesus helping others, serving others, teaching others. For sure He has feelings. When he weeps about the death of Lazarus, he seems angry with the money changers in the temple, his heart goes out to the rich young man, etc. Although to Gospels do not give a lot of details, we can see that Jesus is truly human and has human feelings. Yet these feelings are not His great teaching on love. Rather, when he is being lead to death, we see how he continue to serve others and to forgive others.
We can understand love and trying to do that which is truly good for the best well-being of another person. The phrase is a little complicated, but we can understand that when we want what is good for the other person and are even willing to give up what is good for ourselves, then we are talking about honest and strong love. Today so many think that love is about feelings and instead it is about serving the other person by doing what is good for the other person.
When we meet someone who truly loves in this sense, then we can understand the response of Cornelius in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter was open enough so that he could hear and sense the presence of the divine even among those Gentiles from whom he would normally have kept a distance. What a strong teaching for us! Are we open to others? Can we sense the divine presence in others even when they are people we might usually avoid?
The second reading, from the First Letter of John, also teaches us about love: In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins. Love is first of all being loved by God. God loves us so much that He sends His Son as the expiation for our sins. Are we willing to love in that same way? Are we will to take upon ourselves the sins of others?
True love, then, means that we have feelings but that we also know how to make choices not based on those feelings, but based on choosing what is good for another. If our Lord Jesus had followed His feelings, we would not have been saved—if we think of the Garden of Gethsemane.
Today, then, we are invited to learn more about love, more about choosing for others, more about how God has loved us. The more we are aware of the immensity of God’s love, the more possible it is that we can love others. Let us ask the Holy Spirit to show us, personally, God’s love for us.