By Fr. Rocco Marra, IMC
Slowly, the liturgy of the Eastertide is opening, like a flower, and we can feel the fragrance of the universal mission. The Church by its very nature is missionary, because it comes from the profound Love of the Holy Trinity manifested to us by Christ: especially from his mystery of passion, death, resurrection and glorification… These last Sundays we are accompanying by John the Apostle, the disciple loved by Jesus, his faith and his witness. The faith in the Resurrection, according to the Gospel, little by little enters our hearts. Because this is the style of God: not to overwhelm us. It is a style that respects our freedom. It is a humble, silent style, hidden even in the greatest events of history.
The first reading is taken from the Acts of the Apostles 10:25-27, 34-35, 44-48 and describes how a house of a pagan family became Christian “Domestic Church”. In that time, there were some celebrations and meetings done in similar houses. We realize that the church started in the ordinary houses and no in the palaces. We are the Church of Christ in our homes and with our friends, let us look at Jesus, who is the Love of God among us. Then the Holy Spirit works above the human strength as well; God needs docile pastors to put in practice his Love and to recognize his work among the people.
The second reading is from the first letter of John 4:7-10 in which he urges us to love one another: The Love of God (=Agape) is manifested in the life of Jesus, who served humanity, it was consumed and given totally by the Son of God, on the Cross. In the present and past history, there are many people were converted by the same Love. God loves each one always, but when we enter in intimacy with his Son Jesus, we feel loved by him. This is the reason why people, some even near us, decided to serve humanity in his name.
The Gospel is from St. John 15:9-17.
The Gospels were written after the resurrection of Jesus. In that time the Apostles and Disciples of Jesus understood better and better the Love of God for humanity. First of all, God is himself relation of Love (Holy Trinity). During his agony in the garden before his arrest, Jesus prayed to the Father: “not my will but yours be done.”
Secondly, God is relation of Love with humanity: In the Gospels, we can see Jesus eating with sinners, healing the sick, then Jesus welcomed as his family’s members those who listen to the Word of God and practice it in their lives … Jesus died on the Cross to show the deepest Love of God for humanity, Jesus loves us because he laid down his life for the salvation of all. We are not afraid of the Word in today’s Gospel:
“No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”
Jesus leads us by example of life and we are his friends. In the same line, we are children of God through him, who is the Son of God.
The Love of God comes from the Holy Trinity and we are part of his Family, thanks to Jesus. We celebrate the Love of God in the Eucharist, the Holy Mass. The Eucharist transforms the stranger into a family’s member of God, it makes each one of the participants member of the Body of Christ and friend in the community united by the Holy Spirit.
The Word of God is encouragement to be more genuine and transparent, presence of Jesus in the world. Considering the today’s liturgy of the Word, it comes spontaneous to remember the martyrs of Christ. Last year 2017, were killed 23 people, among them there are priests, religious and catechists. “Martyr” means “witness”, we are witnesses of the Love of God for all humanity. We received the Love of God in the Sacrament of Baptism, as a seed, we are encouraged to develop it, in our daily life, by the help of the Word of God and the Eucharist. Then martyrdom is a vocation that we receive at the celebration of the Sacrament of Confirmation. Let us take our responsibility, in the society and in the church; let us make visible the Kingdom of Love with our, every day, actions.
“Love of neighbour is thus shown to be possible in the way proclaimed by the Bible, by Jesus. It consists in the very fact that, in God and with God, I love even the person whom I do not like or even know. This can only take place on the basis of an intimate encounter with God, an encounter which has become a communion of will, even affecting my feelings. Then I learn to look on this other person not simply with my eyes and my feelings, but from the perspective of Jesus Christ. His friend is my friend”.
(Deus Caritas est, n. 18 – by Benedict XVI)