Dear Parishioners and Visitors,
May 19, 2019
Two weeks ago, we thought about that amazing encounter between Jesus and Peter on the beach by Lake Galilee, where Jesus re-commissioned Peter to 'feed his sheep': to show love and compassion and pastoral concern for those who were in need. This is a commission that rests on each one of us to varying degrees because each one of us is called to a life of love, and care, and compassion: to support, encourage, and help those who are feeling feeble and vulnerable and to stand with others in their pain.
The gospel this morning is indeed the perfect complement to the gospel two weeks ago because it goes to the very heart of what it means for us to follow Jesus. In this gospel, Jesus sums up Christian teaching in a couple of short, simple sentences: "I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this, everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love one for another."
"Love" is the essential word of today's reading. The mutual love of the Father and the Son provides the foundation for both Jesus' love for his disciples, and the love that he commands the disciples to have for one another. However, Judas' heart is eroded by greed: he moves from light into shadow-land, into the night. Hate replaces love, and betrayal replaces committed friendship. Love-in the scriptural sense, caritas or agape-refers to a self-sacrificial love for others that lifts them up without regard to our own status.
It is this love that will be the source of the disciples' joy and the condition of their intimate friendship with the Lord. Our life in Christ manifested in our love for him and for others, shows that we are friends of Christ today, living in imitation of him in the world . As John (15:15) tells us that the Lord loves us and that we are not his servants but his friends because we know what his mission is about, we know his teaching and his truth and only friends would know this.
We pray: Lord, I am the focus of your indiscriminate love. Grant me a profound appreciation of this limitless gift. Transformed by this love, may I in turn show unrestricted loving to others--especially to my enemies!
-Fr. Peter Damian, O.P.