Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1Jn 4:7-10; Jn15:9-17
Love one another as I love you
When I was growing up, I ran into serious trouble when I wrote my first love letter. My friend, Eric and I hid our letters under a stone behind our house while looking forward to the right moment to dispatch them. Unfortunately, my Dad found out, and punished us:we were asked to pick a pin, after which he gave us six strokes of the lash each. Our letters were well crafted with phrases like- “I cannot live without you…every time I see you, my heart jumps…” I came to realize later in life that we were merely trying to play act what we watched on movies and listened to, in love songs.
Our story is not outmoded because our day and age is saturated with all kinds of love songs, movies and expressions, yet it is hard to find relationships where true love subsists. It would seem our Lord was aware that his followers would encounter challenges in the world on the true meaning of love-so he decided not only to show the example, but made it a commandment: “a new commandment I give you, love one another as I have loved you.”(Jn 13:34) His was unconditional love. And the main crisis cutting across every fabric of society- Christian families, friendships, marriages, communities is the lack of unconditional love.
Jesus’ unconditional love means he loves us in spite of our sins and ugly behavior. He loves us not because of what we do or who we are, but he loves us in spite of what we do and who we are. It is not easy to die for a good man but he died for us while were still sinners. He still loves us even when we are not nice to him.
It is the same unconditional love to which couples commit themselves when they make the solemn promise: “I take you for better for love, in sickness and health…till death do us part. There is no conditional clause like, “I will love you till further notice”. To love unconditionally is a risk! By this this token, we open up our hearts to each other, and we can either lose the one we love or we can be hurt by the very ones we love. Consequently, we can’t expect to love without being vulnerable to a wounded heart. Anyone who wants to love without experiencing wounds can as well parcel his or heart and keep it.
Unconditional love is not found on pretty looks. People who are attracted to you because of your pretty face and nice body won’t be by your side forever(Young girls looking forward to getting married should pray that no man should be attracted to them just because of their beautiful face or skin). But the people who can see how beautiful your heart is will never leave you. Beauty without a good heart is like performing cosmetic surgery on a corpse. Someone once said “the friendship that ends never was.” This refers to people who get together with a distorted notion of love-perhaps infatuation or lustful attractions. It is like love at first sight which ends with divorce at first sight. The truth is that true love never dies!
If we aren’t ready to love as Christ loves, we should not disguise selfishness in the name of love. It is a grievous sin to walk in and out of people, playing with someone’s emotions without the slightest intention to love. Don’t say “I love you” if you don’t mean it. It takes time, sometimes a life time to mend broken hearts. Let love be without pretense, do what is good and avoid what is evil(Rom 12:9).
Nevertheless, whenever relationships fail, don’t be quick to blame the other person, but ask yourself about what attracted you to that person, and, what you did on your part as a Christian to keep the love of Christ alive in your relationship. As we can see, the “Ex-data” is going out of proportion-Ex boyfriend, ex-wives, ex- husbands. What legacy are we leaving behind for the younger generation?
However, no matter how painful one’s love experience may turn out to be, we should never stop loving. Don’t bear a grudge, don’t nurture hate feelings. Let those who hurt you carry the burden. Frederick Buechner says: “you can kiss your family and friends good-bye and put miles between you, but at the same time, you carry them with you in your heart, your mind, your stomach, because you don’t live in a world, but a world lives in you. ”By the way, keep in mind that people come into your life for a reason, a season or a lifetime.
Christ insists that if we want our joy to be complete we should love one another. The reality here is that we should not always expect to get back what we give out in love. Learn to take things with a grain of salt; praise, criticisms, good treatment or ill treatment should not make you give up being what God wants you to be. If we ever let others determine our love by what they say and do to us, we will never be joyful. Rather we will spend our entire life fighting against people instead of living for love.
Life is what it is-we all expect the ideal, but we must face the reality. We would be disappointed if we always expect people to be nice to us. Humans are who they are, humans! It is better to always be disposed for the worst. There is no logic in love, else Christ would not have died on the cross. We can rightly take offense when we are hurt or disappointed, but at the end of the day, don’t make a fuse of it, because you are neither the first nor the last. Christ already predicted it when he said, if the world hates you or treats you badly, remember it hated me first(Jn 15:18-25). It is important to learn to love people without any expectation. Let us love because we want Christ to remain in us.
Mother Teresa’s poem titled “Do good anyway” is worthy of consideration here: People are often unreasonable, irrational, and self-centered. Forgive them anyway. If you are kind, people may often accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives. Be kind anyway. If you are honest and sincere people may deceive you. Be honest and sincere anyway. What you spend years creating, others could destroy overnight. Create anyway. If you find serenity and happiness, some may be jealous. Be happy anyway. Give the best you have, and it will never be enough. Give your best anyway. In the final analysis, it is between you and God. It was never between you and them anyway.
My dear people, let us love one another because God is love. Anyone who claims to love God yet hates his brother or sister is a liar, because the only image of God that we have seen is that of our neighbor (1Jn 4:20). He made man in his own image, as we have it in Genesis. Owe nothing to anyone--except for your obligation to love one another. If you love your neighbor, you will fulfill the requirements of God's law(Rom 13:8). Let us spend some time with our loved ones because they are not going to be around forever. Parents should stay close to their families, speak kind and loving words to the little ones who look up to you because they will soon grow up and leave your side. Remember to hold hands and cherish the moment for some day that person will not be there again.
May I use this opportunity to wish all mothers a very Happy Mother’s Day! There are countless reasons for which we should thank our mothers, and if we dare dwell on them, every day should be Mother’s Day. But today, we thank them for carrying us in their wombs for nine months! May God bless all mothers, both the living and the dead.