6th Sunday of Easter-Cycle B-2018

FIRST READING            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.

SECOND READING                  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                John 15:9-17

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.”

My sisters and brothers,

The readings this Sunday are all about love.  We must love one another because Jesus loves us.  We must recognize that anyone who does not love, cannot be of God.  It is not as important that we love God—rather, it is more important that God loves us.  God’s love includes even the Gentiles, the non-Jewish people.  And we can say that God love includes everyone.

The first reading today is from the Acts of the Apostles and gives us the account of how Saint Peter came to accept the non-Jewish people as believers, without requiring them to become Jews.  That fact that the Holy Spirit had come upon the non-Jewish believers convinced the Jewish believers that one could believe in Jesus Christ without being a Jew.

The second reading is from the First Letter of Saint John.  Again, we see how love must include everyone.  Where love is lacking, so also is God lacking.  True loves comes from being in Jesus Christ.  “God sent His Only Son into the world so that we might have life through Him.”  All of our life comes from Jesus and our life must be lived in Jesus.

The Gospel of Saint John today speaks of God’s love for us.  In the same way that the Father loves Jesus, His Son, so also Jesus loves us!  That is incredible.  We often do not think of God’s love for us as in any way being the same love that the Divine Persons have among themselves.  Somehow we often see ourselves as less.  The whole Christian tradition tells us, however, that Jesus became man, human, so that we might share in His Divinity.  What an incredible life we have!  Even when we sin, that life is still within us.  We are created to share in the Divinity of Jesus.

Although nothing is said in today’s readings, we are all aware that to share in Christ is to follow Him by living the way that He lived.  So God gives us a path of life.  Not everything is good and not everything is holy.  There are actions and ways of thinking and ways of speaking that take us away from this incredible gift of Divine Life.

Far too often today, everything is seen as good as long as it makes me happy and feel good.  This is not the way of the Lord Jesus.  Love in the Gospel is not a feeling about another person, but a choice to seek the good of the other person even if I must sacrifice my own good.  This is the way of the Lord Jesus.

We actually have the power to live that way once we recognize God’s love for us and His choice to share His life with us.  Our power, our virtue, our goodness, our capacity to love—all come from the Lord Jesus.  He is risen indeed, alleluia!

Your brother in the Lord,

Abbot Philip