True love for God is expressed through obedience to His will.

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29

Some who had come down from Judea were instructing the brothers, “Unless you are circumcised according to the Mosaic practice, you cannot be saved.” Because there arose no little dissension and debate by Paul and Barnabas with them, it was decided that Paul, Barnabas, and some of the others should go up to Jerusalem to the apostles and elders about this question. The apostles and elders, in agreement with the whole church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The apostles and the elders, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’”

Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23

The angel took me in spirit to a great, high mountain and showed me the holy city Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God. It gleamed with the splendor of God. Its radiance was like that of a precious stone, like jasper, clear as crystal. It had a massive, high wall, with twelve gates where twelve angels were stationed and on which names were inscribed, the names of the twelve tribes of the Israelites. There were three gates facing east, three north, three south, and three west. The wall of the city had twelve courses of stones as its foundation, on which were inscribed the twelve names of the twelve apostles of the Lamb. I saw no temple in the city for its temple is the Lord God almighty and the Lamb. The city had no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God gave it light, and its lamp was the Lamb.

John 14:23-29

Jesus said to his disciples: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him. Whoever does not love me does not keep my words; yet the word you hear is not mine but that of the Father who sent me. “I have told you this while I am with you. The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.’ If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father; for the Father is greater than I. And now I have told you this before it happens, so that when it happens you may believe.”

Today’s Gospel Reading is part of Jesus’ Last Discourse (Chapter 14 to 17). Earlier Jesus has given His disciples a farewell gift: a new commandment of brotherly love (Jn 13:34). From this brotherly love, not only the world will see and know Jesus, but those who keep His commandment will receive further gifts from Him, gifts that in the Old Testament time only God could give.

The love of the Father

In the Old Testament, the gauge of love is the love of God (Dt 6:5). Love of God is not about emotional or spiritual feeling but “to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes” (Dt 10:12-13) and He will love and watch over those who love Him (Prv 8:7, Ps 145:20). Jesus now connects the love of God to the love of one’s neighbor (Mt 22:36-40, Mk 12:28-31). He Himself is the yardstick in loving others. In keeping Jesus’ word, we keep God’s word (Jn 14:24; 16:15). The unity of the Father and the Son manifests itself in the Father’s love for those who now love the Son and God will not only watch over them but will make His home with them (Jn 14:21,23; Rv 21:3).

The divine indwelling

In the Old Testament, God dwelt among His chosen people in the tabernacle/temple (1 Kgs 8:27, Ez 37:27, Zec 2:10-13). Jesus now connects God’s presence to Himself (Mt 12:6, Jn 2:19; 14:7,9-10). After His departure from the world, through the coming of the Holy Spirit, He continues to live among those who love Him and are faithful to His word (Jn 14:16-17, 23-26). Today His abiding presence is in the Eucharist, in the Holy Scriptures and in the teachings of the Church. In baptism, Christians received not only sanctifying grace but also the divine indwelling of the Holy Trinity——God the Father (1 Jn 4:15-16), God the Son (Acts 17:28, Mt 28:20) and God the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 3:16, 6:19; 2 Cor 6:16).

Peace

In the Old Testament, Shalom (Hebrew for peace) is not just an absence of disturbances. It includes wholeness, harmony and prosperity. God alone is understood to be the source of peace (Jgs 6:24) and God’s peace is a gift (Lv 26:6, Jn 14:27). It will only be given to those who live in righteousness (Ps 85:8-10) and those who maintain a right relationship with Him (Is 26:3; 48:22; 57:20). Jesus is the Prince of Peace (Is 9:6, Eph 2:14) and He will give this gift of peace to those who love Him. It is not an alleviation of temporal want or stress (Jn 14:27) but an inner peace of calmness and strength which comforts the troubled hearts and gives courage in the midst of fear (Jn 16:33, 2 Thes 3:16, Rom 5:1, Phil 4:7).

These gifts reveal the intimate union of Jesus with His Father and His true nature as the Son of God. We are called to demonstrate our love for Him through faithfulness in keeping His word. Jesus is the one who truly loves God by perfectly obeying His will. In keeping Jesus’ word, we reflect Him not only in obedience but also in our love for God.

Posted: May 1, 2016

May Tam

 
May Tam, Bachelor of Social Science (University of Hong Kong), Master of Theological Studies (University of Toronto)


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