Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)
A few times in our lifetime we vote for a president, who, we believe, can lead our country to progress. But in choosing him, we have in our minds that if he falls short of his promises and if he attacks morality, we would tell him through the media or through our public officials that he does not meet our expectation of being a good leader.
In our families, we do not vote who our parents should be. We do not elect whether they should be tall or short, white or colored, or went to school or not. This is the same with God. He is not our president. We did not vote to put Him as our God and Father, whom we can praise if He does well and rally against if He doesn’t do well. God is just too humble and loving that He lived among us and showed Himself to us as a man, “Who, though He was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God something to be grasped. Rather, He emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, He humbled Himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8).
Jesus’ expression of obedience led His disciples to His most important command: to love. At the Last Supper, He said: My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another (Jn 13:33-35). St. Augustine said: They hear and obey the Lord’s words…. not as men love one another for their own selfish ends, nor merely on account of their common humanity, but because they are all gods and sons of the Most High…. so that they may be brothers of his only Son…. For when God is all in all, there will be nothing left to desire…. This love is the gift of the Lord…. His object in loving us, then, was to enable us to love each other. By loving us himself, our mighty head has linked us together as members of his own body, bound to one another by the tender bond of love (used for Office of Readings, Thursday in the 4th Week of Easter, from a treatise on John by St. Augustine, Bishop).
In another instance, in His frustration over Jerusalem, Jesus sighed: “Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those sent to you, how many times I yearned to gather your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, but you were unwilling” (Lk 13:34)!
In the Book of Revelation, John would amazingly bring about the image of God as the new heaven and the new earth and the image of a bride. He proclaimed: “I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth…. I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband” (21:1-2). This Jerusalem would no longer be the place where people used to converge and where Jesus suffered and brought salvation to all. This new Jerusalem would be Jesus Himself, who took all the sins of the world unto Himself and who has become the salvation of all. God would make His dwelling with and in us, as John heard in his vision: “Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God (Rev 21:3).
Love requires, not only supplying the needs of others materially, emotionally or psychologically, but also and above all, growth in discipline and considerateness and the promotion of the good of others. This kind of love leads us to the holiness Jesus wants to see in us, for He is holy. St. Paul says: “Do nothing out of selfishness or out of vainglory; rather, humbly regard others as more important than yourselves, each looking out not for his own interests, but (also) everyone for those of others. Have among yourselves the same attitude that is also yours in Christ Jesus” (Phil 2:3-5).
Hence, we cannot compare ourselves with others. We cannot assume that we are better than others in any way, for this erodes God’s Spirit in all His creation. We cannot complain of what others have that we don’t. Each one has his God-given talent, responsibility and calling, so that he/she can love as the Lord loves. If pride and arrogance reside in us, we cannot expect God to help us, for as the Psalmist says, “The man who slanders his neighbor in secret I will bring to silence. The man of proud looks and haughty heart I will never endure…. He who walks in perfection shall be my friend. No man who practices deceit shall live within my house. No man who utters lies shall stand before my eyes” (3-7).
We pray, and pray unceasingly, that as we celebrate and partake of the Eucharist, we put away all friction, indifference and jealousy in our relationships. Let us be obedient like Jesus who was obedient to His Father, choose to love Him and so share in the everlasting life in store for us.