Fifth Sunday of Easter (José Antonio Pagola)

Ross Reyes DizonHomilies and reflections, Year CLeave a Comment

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NOT LOSING OUR IDENTITY

Jesus is saying goodbye to his disciples. Very soon, they will no longer have him with them. Jesus speaks to them with special tenderness: Little children, I shall be with you only a little while longer. The community is small and fragile. It has just been born. The disciples are like little children. What will become of them if they are without the Teacher?

Jesus gives them a gift: I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. If they like each other with the love with which Jesus has loved them, they will never fail to feel his living presence among them. The love they have received from Jesus will keep spreading among them.

That is why Jesus adds:  This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another. What will allow people to discover that a community that calls itself Christian is really Jesus’ will not be the confession of a doctrine, or the observance of some rituals, or the following of a discipline. Rather, it will be the love lived out with Jesus’ spirit. In such love lies the identity of the community.

We live in a society where the “culture of exchange” continues to be imposed. People exchange objects, services and provisions. Frequently, they exchange feelings, bodies and even friendship. Erich Fromm even suggested, “Love is by necessity a marginal phenomenon in present-day Western society.” People who are able to love constitute an exception.

Probably this is an excessively pessimistic analysis, but what is certain is that in order to live out Christian love today, we need to withstand the atmosphere that envelops today’s society. We cannot practice the kind of love that is inspired by Jesus without distancing ourselves from the style of relationships and self-interested exchanges that frequently prevails among us.

If the Church is losing its importance in today’s society, it is not just because of the profound crisis affecting religious institutions. In the case of Christianity, it is also because many times it is not easy to see, in our communities, disciples of Jesus who are characterized by their capacity to love as he loved. We lack the characteristic that identifies us as Christians.

We Christians have talked a lot about love. However, we have not always gotten it right, nor have we dared to give it its true content, starting from the spirit and from the concrete attitudes of Jesus. We need to learn that he lived out love as an active and creative way of life that led him to an attitude of service and of struggle against everything that dehumanizes and makes human beings suffer.

April 24, 2016
5th Sunday of Easter (C)
John 13, 31-33a. 34-35

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