A Reflection on the Reading for Sunday, May 15, the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Reading I: Acts 14:21-27
Responsorial Psalm: 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
Reading II: Revelation 21:1-5a
Gospel: John 13:31-33a, 34-35
This past week I was startled to hear that we might endure some sort of interruption to our Sunday Celebration of Mass. Father Philip stood up and addressed the congregation before the Mass began and explained that if such an event took place, please stay seated and pray quietly.
This is because someone decided to leak confidential information from the Supreme Court addressing the possibility of overturning the current Constitutional standing of Roe vs. Wade, a 1973 decision that protects a woman’s liberty to choose to have an abortion without excessive government restriction.
There has been and continues to be much coverage of this in the media, and one story, in particular, struck me as quite bizarre. It described and quoted a young woman protesting for her right to have an abortion on demand. She stated, “why would you want to deny this right from me? Even God killed his Son!”. This was something said that was meant to be repulsive and gain some kind of response from the Pro-life audience.
The Gospel for this Fifth Sunday of Easter is short but contains the totality of the mission of Jesus, and thus it is the perfect response to such an ignorant and repugnant statement. This Gospel of John is the definition of why Jesus came and why He died. We can clearly understand that God did not kill His Son. His Son died for our transgressions, our moral incompetency, and our sins. He died … out of the abundant love for His children.
This is absolutely polar opposite from what that protesting woman was trying to proclaim. Jesus’ death was a ransom, a token of love to deliver God’s children from the grasp of death. As Revelations tells us, it is the realization of a New Heaven and New Earth for death has been destroyed. Jesus’ passion and death on a cross was an act of love beyond our understanding. His resurrection was His defeat of death, and for all that come to appreciate and desire His love, it is a path to eternal life. Jesus, the Son of God, is our Savior, a Savior that came in love, taught love and showed His love.
That night of the Last Supper, which John’s Gospel describes, Jesus gives us all a simple message he says “you must learn to love, and you must love each other in the same way that I have loved you.” He does not mean a sentimental view of love, which is a type of love shown in service and sacrifice. It is difficult to choose to love when faced with hatred and anger. Jesus tells the disciples that all will know that they are his disciples because of the love they show for one another.
Paul and Barnabas endured these difficulties and eventually won over the objectors and persecutors in Antioch, the first place where followers of “The Way” would become known as Christians. This early Christian community will be recognized for “How they love one another.” Christian love is the hallmark of Christianity. We see it lived in the witness of the martyrs. We see it in the example of the lives of the saints. We see it in the holy women and men who live and love daily, making small and large sacrifices for others.
So, to be Christians and followers of Christ, we must love even those who do not yet understand how we participate in the creation of life, those who do not value life. We cannot change people’s thoughts by provocation and shouting, and we can only be persuasive in how we approach them with our hearts, with the way we are called to love, to love as Jesus loves us.
Let us pray that our love and how we show that love will be like the love of Jesus. A love that will bring us to a New Heaven and a New Earth and deliver all God’s children from the grasp of death.
In Christian Love,
Deacon Jeff Borski