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.”
For so many of us today, love is a completely misunderstood reality. It is most often confused with a longing for another person, a longing to have that person for myself. Without a doubt, that desire and longing can be a part of love, but it is not love itself.
Love is choosing what is good for the other person and then doing what is good for the other person, even if that means entirely putting the other person out of my life. We have all kinds of examples of heroic love in the person of so many fire fighters who give their lives for the good of others. We have that same heroic love with those who are willing to give their lives for their country. Most of us understand those large examples of self-giving love.
Christ invites us to love as He loves. He gives His life even for those who reject Him and kill Him. He gives His life for all of us sinners. He invites us to love in that same way. It is clear in these examples that falling in love, feeling a longing and a desire for another person, are simply not part of this deepest love, even though they can lead us to understand this great love and can help us give ourselves to such a love.
We see this great love at work in the first reading today. In this section of the Acts of the Apostles we see the struggle of the early Church, which was Jewish, to accept non-Jews, the Gentiles. In order to understand this situation, we have to recognize that the Gentiles wanted to become Christians. They wanted to change their lives. Today there is an enormous movement to try to make people feel good without asking anything of them. This is not a Christian movement. Yes, we must love all other peoples, not matter what they believe—but we can’t pretend that they are Christians unless they accept the Christian faith, as did these early Gentiles.
The Christian faith included believing in the Lord Jesus and walking the way that He taught us. Jesus comes to love us and to teach us the way of salvation. The way of salvation includes beliefs and practices. In our Christian history, there are at times conflicts over the beliefs and the practices. We Catholics, if we are Catholic, accept that there is a teaching authority in the Church.
Today we find all kinds of people and movements who claim to be Catholic but who do not accept the teaching authority of the Church. The early Christians would not have accepted them as followers of the way. Today, because of so many challenges to Christian and Catholic faith, there is a counter movement to clarify what it means to be Christian and Catholic. There are extremes on the right and on the left. For those of us who are not so fiercely extremist, there is the simple way of accepting the Church as She is, the body of Christ; accepting the teaching authority of the Church as it is, the presence of Jesus in our world.
We come back to the central theme of today: Love one another as I have loved you. Remain in My love. It is I who have chosen you.