Gospel Reflections

5th Sunday of Easter

John 13:31-33A, 34-35

Sunday Gospel Reflection by Sister Elizabeth Michaels

Published: April 24, 2016

In these weeks following  our celebration of God’s overwhelming love for us manifest in the Passion and Resurrection of Jesus, I find myself singing that familiar refrain,” What wondrous love is this, O my soul, O my Soul!”

The liturgy for today is rich with references to this boundless love of our Good God – Love for each us personally, for the Church, the world, the whole of creation. The responsorial psalm gives us that beautiful  testimony - “The Lord is gracious and merciful, slow to anger, and of great kindness.”

In the second reading from Revelations, we find further proof that God’s love is everlasting. “Behold God’s dwelling is with the human race…He will wipe every tear from their eyes and there will be no more death or mourning.  Behold I make all things new.”   

How can we respond to such an outpouring of love?  In today’s Gospel reading Jesus gives us a response.   The passage is taken from St. John’s  account of Jesus’ last discourse to his disciples before His Passion.  In a sense could we say that this was Jesus’ good bye to the men and women who have been His companions these last years?   

My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I have given you a new commandment;  love one another. As I have loved you so you also should love one another. (Jn. 13)

At first glance, Jesus’ words can be overpowering. They challenge us not only in the realm of our immediate relationships with family, friends and acquaintances but, like Jesus, our love and concern must embrace the whole world.

Our world today is so needy – needy for peace, for justice, for mercy, for love.  The news media is daily filled with accounts of violence and persecution, driving countless innocent victims from their homes and loved ones.  Victims of poverty and injustice are everywhere.   

What then is Jesus’ call “love one another as I have loved you?”  Certainly we are called to alleviate suffering and injustice wherever we can. But I feel that Jesus is asking something more of us, to hold this troubled world in our hearts and in our prayers. Jesus calls us to embrace the world with our love and mercy.   

Our  foundress, St. Julie Billiart, has captured the message of today’s Gospel when she says to her daughters, “You must have hearts as wide as the world.”  Jesus asks no less of us!   

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