Gospel Jn 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy might be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”
This I command you: love one another.
It was Tuesday morning and I was reading the Daily Readings
on my phone. When I reached the end of
the Gospel, this stood out to me.
Jesus was always telling us to love one another, love one
another as I have loved you, etc. But here Jesus gave it as a Command!!! “Love one another.”
If we love one another, we treat each person with respect,
with dignity and we defend them and support then when they are in trouble. This is difficult if the person(s) are homeless
wearing tattered clothes with unkept hair.
It may be even more difficult if we know them and they are mean to
Jesus did not give any room for exceptions. This I command you: love one another.
Reflection for St Joseph Bulletin Cover during Lent
We have spent time on our Lenten Journey contemplating God’s love and mercy and our sinfulness and loneliness. We have asked God to forgive us for the times we failed and to teach us to follow him every day. As we searched our hearts for the times we failed, we may have found circumstances that still bother us, that still trouble us, sometimes from long ago.
It seems easier for us to hold onto the past and our loneliness than to open our hearts to God’s ever-present love. The prophet Isaiah wrote “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!”
Our minds find change very difficult to accept. We get into our routines and don’t like to get outside of them. There is something unnerving about change. But Isaiah said that God was doing something new! Then Isaiah asks “Now it springs forth, do you not perceive it? Then Isaiah explains how God will provide water for his people to drink in the wastelands and the desert.
Water gives life. We can survive without food for a long period, but we can survive about three days without water. God provides the water; the healing our hearts need in the wasteland and desert. We have all spent time in the wasteland and desert of our lives. The times when we were lonely and even afraid of what would happen to us. Maybe it was a time of addition or a time when we were out of work and didn’t know how we would provide food or shelter for our family. Maybe it was an abusive relationship that we struggled to get out of for our own safety. Maybe it was a relationship with a family member that ended in a bitter fight and still eats at us today.
The prophets did not speak on their own. They were God’s spokesperson telling the people the message that God gave to the prophet. That message is still as valuable to us today as it was to the Israelites in Isaiah’s time. God promised that he would do something new for us.
Now it is up to us to reflect with penitent hearts the words of the prophet: “Remember not the events of the past, the things of long ago consider not; see, I am doing something new!”
It’s hard to let go of the past: the hurt, to let go of the pain caused by someone we knew, loved and respected. We have a chance to open our hearts to God and ask him to forgive the past and to provide healing for our hearts. May the rest of this Lenten Journey bring each of us closer to what new events God has in store for us.
Our parish is kicking off a Capital Campaign. A prayer was created for the campaign to acknowledge God’s goodness and blessings, to give thanks to God for all he gives us and to ask for his help in the present and the future as we work together to build a permanent church for the community to worship. There is a sentence that really stands out to me:
“You have blessed our past; You sustain our present; You supply eternal hope for our future.” God’s work among us in the past, the present and the future. What a powerful statement:
“You have blessed our past; You sustain our present; You supply eternal hope for our future.”
Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven …..
The prayer that Jesus gave us as a model prayer has some very profound concepts in it. What are we really asking God to do on earth? Thy will be done, on earth, as it is in heaven. We know that everything in heaven does God’s will. We also know that is not true on earth.
Evil abounds everywhere in every part of the earth. It’s not just in the Middle East or Africa. It is in Europe, in Asia, in South America and even here in the United States. Bombings and shootings make us afraid to go out into a crowd. Big cities have more crime but this is different now. It can happen anywhere. A few people have become radical their hatred for others different than themselves is seen as a reason to kill and destroy.
If we really mean it when we pray for God’s will to be done on earth, it requires us to take action. God’s will is accomplished on earth by us, those who are believers. It requires us to reach out to those who despise us, even those who hate us. That will be difficult, especially if we caused them pain and suffering by the acts we did toward them. God will give us the courage to approach the person we have wronged, to ask forgiveness and work to mend a broken relationship.
Many cultures hate those who are Christian or those who are poor or those who are different. Affluent cultures despise those who are homeless or poor. We all have our prejudices. We need to ask God for help in reaching out to even the worst offenders such as ISIS. Our prayers will begin the process. It will not happen immediately. However, over time we can change the world by sharing God’s love with others. Only then can God’s will be done on earth as it is in heaven.
Forgive us our trespasses as we forgive those who trespass against us …..
The prayer that Jesus gave us as a model prayer has some very profound concepts in it. This phrase was not just a plea to the Father to forgive us, it has a condition tied to it: as we forgive those who trespass against us.
Think about that for a moment! My forgiveness is tied to my ability to forgive.
How many times have I become angry and unwilling to forgive another person because of the hurt, the pain that they caused me or someone close to me? God’s love is overpowering and demands complete forgiveness regardless of the reason.
Let us pray:
Father, forgive me and help me to learn forgiveness from you. Help me to forgive others regardless of their actions. Help me to reach out in love even though they may hate me. Help me to serve others with your love from my heart so I may receive your forgiveness. Help me to always be kind to others. Amen