Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 9, 2021 Cycle B
by Rev. Jose Maria Cortes, F.S.C.E., Chaplain,
Saint John Paul II National Shrine
 Washington, D.C.

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Sunday Reading Meditations

“As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love” (Jn 15:9). Today’s readings explain the true nature of love.

In the second reading, Saint John gives us a definition of God: “God is love” (1 Jn 4:8). No word is more distorted from its true meaning than “love” when it is separated from its source. God is the source of love: “Let us love one another because love is of God” (1 Jn 4:7). We need to know God, the source of love, so that we may truly love.

Jesus came to share his life with us. He came to share God’s inner life, which is love. He did not come to bring a message or ethical principles. He came to bring us into a relationship. We can say that he came to allow us to experience love. The second reading says: “God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him” (1 Jn 4:9). In today’s Gospel, Jesus says: “I have told you this that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete” (Jn 15:11).

Christianity has more to do with falling in love than with following rules. If we find the weight of the rules burdensome, our faith is still immature and something has to change.

Many times Christianity is reduced to ethics or doctrine but it is first of all a life that makes us better people. We can keep the commandments if we love. We keep the commandments in order to remain in Jesus’ love.

If you want to change your life, if you want to become a better person, just love. Our initial reaction is to think about what we have to do in order to love. However, love is not a matter of doing but of recognizing God’s initiative toward us. Saint John says: “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:10). In the Gospel, Jesus declares: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you” (Jn 15:16).

Today’s first reading recounts a great manifestation of God’s love that occurred in the early church. While Peter was preaching, those listening to the word received the gift of the Holy Spirit. Then Peter ordered all of them to be baptized. Baptism is a supreme gesture of God’s love for us. The day of our baptism is the moment when the gift of love, a seed to produce abundant fruit, enters our lives.

Saint Archbishop Oscar Romero noted in his diary: “In recent days the Lord has inspired in me a great desire for holiness. I have been thinking of how far a soul can ascend if it lets itself be possessed entirely by God.” The saints teach us what love is because they loved. It is very important to study their lives and pray to them. With their example and intercession, the act of believing brings us new life.

To love means to receive a gift and enter the dynamic of giving. In the Gospel, Jesus says: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). We love when we give ourselves to God and to others. This is true in all types of human love: the love between a man and a woman, love of relatives, love among friends and love for our enemies. To love means to let Christ live in us, to allow God to possess us entirely.

Let us remain in Christ’s love. Let us taste God’s love for us. Let us allow Jesus to complete our joy. Let us love as God loves us.  Amen.