Livonia, Michigan

Sixth Sunday of Easter

By the Faithful Disciple

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you … If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” We don’t earn God’s love – it is freely given to us. But only by loving God and others, and by keeping his commandments, do we remain in that love as our source of life and joy. It becomes the air we breathe, and the breath we exhale. Today’s second reading and Gospel reassure us of the love of God, but also give us a few specifics for how to live in and remain in that love – self-sacrifice and prayer. We are to love one another as Jesus loves us, and we know what that looks like from his life: feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, forgiving one another, and more. Living in the way Jesus instructs is not simply completing a checklist of things to do, however. It’s a way of life – to live in God’s love and to demonstrate his love with our outward actions. When we do so, we are helping bring about the kingdom in a very real way. It’s not complicated. We begin by acting in accordance with the truth that the person in front of us is loved by God.

The message of the Gospel is countercultural and upends many convictions about what is true, good, and beautiful. What Jesus says can seem upside down to us, as it certainly did to the people of his time! Even the disciples, who walked with Jesus, didn’t fully grasp all of what Jesus had told them until after he had been raised from the dead and appeared in their midst and shared food with them. And even after they understood, they didn’t live it perfectly, nor do we. The things of this world we can mistakenly think are important get in the way of loving as we ought, and they shape our behavior and vision of the world. To counter that, we must focus in on what the Lord is saying and what that demands of us. What exactly that will look like in our lives is the provenance of prayer. Ask for God’s help in loving all those we come across, even (and especially) those we may not particularly care for. He will answer our prayers and show us the way.

Think of someone you know personally or whom you know of who is particularly difficult to like. Create a plan to love them this week – either through praying for them, or interacting with them in a charitable, selfless way.