May 6, 2024

6th Sunday of Easter, 5/5/24

Fr. Elias Correa-Torres

“Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”

The readings today invite us once again to consider God’s intention and purpose in creating us: that we might have the fullness of life in love. Jesus himself speaks this message to us in inspired words of beauty and eloquence, wanting us in hearing it to yearn for what is presented to us, so that in our seeking of God we will be strengthened and renewed by remembering what Christ has revealed to us as the plan of God.

If human beings want to proceed down any other way, they should consider how their experience compares to what Jesus describes and offers. The world offers many things that draw people: immediate gratifications, intense experiences of the senses, drugs and food to control emotions and mood, shock and fear to produce adrenaline and excitement, and endless forms of entertainment. Alongside these are long-term promises of success, accumulation of possessions, power, fame. Yet nothing the world offers can compare to what God has prepared for those who love. In today’s Gospel, Jesus describes this life. First, he tells us, “As the Father loves me, so I love you.” Jesus loves us with this same love present in the Most Holy Trinity.

Love is the very existence of the persons of the Trinity. It is God’s nature, “For love is of God.” In the world the word love is used for small ideas, things that don’t last. But God’s love for you is real, overwhelming and eternal. It is the love of a true friendship.

As with those who share all things and enjoy each other’s company, God’s love is also passionate. He yearns to be with you, to have you look at him for you to hear his every word. And God’s love is perfectly sacrificial. There is nothing God will not do for the good of those he loves. Thus, the scriptures elsewhere can accurately say about love that it “bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things.”

Among human beings, what they call love sometimes withers and dies. But that is not so with true love. Nothing we can do, not even our greatest sins, can diminish God’s love for us. Ultimately, we are told the love is stronger than death, and love never fails. It was in that love that God created us, made to share in God’s life and divine nature.

We are, after all, created in God’s image and likeness. We are also meant to be beings that love just like the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Thus, Saint Basil can say that love has been given to us part of our nature, a capacity that is planted within us. We love as part of who we are, not as something unusual or extraordinary.

Rather, it is those people who do not love who act strangely. It is they who live as something inhuman. And in so doing, they forego the possibility to experience the fullness of life and for their joy to be complete.

But God loves them too, and in a special way, for their need is particularly great. God in his love is always seeking the lost. He calls them from the heights. He looks for any sign that they are willing to turn to him. And then he rushes to meet them. He sends many messengers to them. Jesus says elsewhere, “The Son of Man came to seek and save the lost.” From the existence that is the Most Holy Trinity, Love itself is incarnated and made a human being in Jesus Christ.

In loving us, the Father sent his only Son into the world, so that we might have life through him, and that he might be expiation for our sins. No one has greater love than this.

Jesus tells us today to lay down one’s life for one’s friends, and now incarnated love can be physically seen and heard and touched, for we will shortly receive him in the Eucharist.

Love can be related to our own human experience. For Jesus Christ, himself Love, has shared all the experiences we have lived. Although he never committed sin, yet Jesus took upon himself on our behalf the consequences and the suffering that sin produces. He knows all our pain. “In this is love, not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.”

He loved us first and without limits, offering us his very self. So he says to us, “Remain in my love.” The more we receive his love, the more we will live to in proximity to God. We will be inflamed with the fire of God’s divine love. Those who remain with Christ love, continuously deepening their relationship with Christ, becoming lovers just like him.

To remain in his love is to continuously draw love and grace from him. The sign that this is taking place is that such people increasingly align their will to God’s will. They become like God in what they do. They increasingly keep God’s commandments, just like Jesus did. They say “yes” to everything God asks of them, less and less out of fear or seeking some reward, but instead willingly, energetically, knowing how good it is.

Is this not the path of the saints? They remained in Christ’s love and loved Christ in return. In this living relationship, they were transformed. They increasingly did the works that Christ does. Made like God, they have become Christ’s true sisters and brothers. And they are unified, brought into true and living relationships with each other.

“This is my commandment,” Jesus tells us today, “love one another as I love you.” In God’s plan, the many are made into one, loving each other with the same love as the Father has for the Son: The very love of God! Saint John tells us today that everyone who loves is begotten by God. They come into true existence and being. God completes his creation of them.

When we began to love, we began to exist. When we come to love completely, then we will completely exist. And when we can say, “I am,” then our life is increasingly a blessing for others and for ourselves. Like Jesus, we too will bring forgiveness and reconciliation to the world in us. God will transform enemies into friends through us. God will bring salvation to the world in our flesh. We will fill up what is lacking on behalf of Christ’s body, which is the church.

What an awesome thing to share with others! When we in our turn love others and perhaps goad them, or cajole them, or ignite them into loving on their part, they too can be begotten and come into existence.

There is no person inaccessible to this power of love. Love overcomes all evil, heals, restores, reconciles, and even brings life where there is death. We will be friends of God with whom God will share everything, revealing to us all that God knows. And God will delight in astonishing us, showing us more beauty and truth and life, even in completely unexpected places and people. God will be made fully evident. And whatever we ask God in Jesus’ name, God will give us.

Comparing this plan to whatever the world offers, and you will see how it pales in comparison. These exalted, beautiful thoughts and words are for us a window into the reality and experience of heaven. There we will live in perfect relationships of love with God and with each other. We will perfectly know others and we will be perfectly known. And in that perfect knowledge there will not be shame, nakedness, or fear. There will be only acceptance and love. Christians, let us love one another because love is of God. Amen.

The readings for this week can be found here.

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