SUNDAY GOSPEL REFLECTION FROM VATICAN RADIO
(English version exclusive to this website)
Translated and summarized from the homily by Fr Fabio Rosini
May 15th 2022. Fifth Sunday of Easter
GOSPEL John 13:31-33A, 34-35
Translated from a homily by Don Fabio Rosini, broadcast on Vatican Radio
Don Fabio’s reflection follows the Gospel reading . . .
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GOSPEL John 13:31-33A, 34-35
When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
"Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another."
The Gospel of the Lord: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
SUMMARY OF HOMILY
1. It is not what we do that matters, but what God has done. Our love does not arise from us but rather in imitation of his love.
The Gospel for Sunday is short but its content is fundamental for the Christian life. In the first reading from Acts, St Paul emphasizes the action of God for his people. How often we tend to put the focus on our own moral coherence instead of on the power of God, reducing Christianity to an ethical system. In the second reading from Revelation, we read that God makes all things new. This does not mean that he makes new things, but that he renews the old things from the inside. This is the great work that the Lord does in our lives through faith. In the Gospel, Jesus tells us to love one another as he has loved us. The old commandment was to love God with all our strength, but the new commandment is to love as we have been loved. We are invited to replicate this same quality of love that we ourselves have experienced.
2. The sort of love that God shows us is characterised by the fact that it does not depend on what we have done. The love of Jesus is without limits, no matter who we are and what we have done.
We can be very confused about the kind of action that Christianity invites us to. There is always the tendency to make myself the absolute centre of my existence. We can slide into infantile and immature forms of loves. Jesus shows us a different way. When Judas leaves the Upper Room, Jesus says that the Son of Man is now glorified. It is in betrayal, in loving those who hate him, that Jesus shows us the true quality of his love, that scandalous, limitless love which will be manifested on the cross.
3. When we experience God’s love and the forgiveness of our sins, we are changed and we begin to echo this love to others.
Jesus says that people will recognize that we are his disciples by the quality of our love. We can see when someone has been loved to the very depths of the forgiveness of his sins. We are made new from the inside by the love of God for us. When our offences are pardoned, our hearts are changed and we bear the echo, the sign, of this love. We feel loved for who we are and no longer feel the need to justify our existence. We realize that we deserve to exist because we have been loved, and a new quality of relationships begins with those around us. Easter calls us to the love that exists between the members of the Trinity. “As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you”.
4. We demand that others love us because of our winning qualities, but these are not the criteria of Christ! It is our wounded hearts that seek love based on our merit, but the only way for our inner wounds to be healed is to experience the unconditional love of God.
How many doubts and wounds we carry within us! We do not welcome the love of others because we base our lovability on the criteria of this world, which are not the criteria of Christ! We wish to see ourselves as strong, victorious. But it is when we love our enemies as Jesus loved Judas that the glory of God is revealed and we see a piece of heaven upon earth. Each one of us thirsts to be loved to the depths in this manner, even when we have done wrong. This is the love we seek in our relationships and families, love without ulterior motives. Let us look at the unconditional love of God for us and be healed. The only way for the wounds of the human heart to be healed is through love. We can try all the best human techniques for healing the heart, done with sincerity and ingenuity, but it is only the love of God that can heal the deepest wounds of our essence. Only this love that can regenerate and reconstitute the ruptures and discords within us.
In the Gospel, Judas leaves the Upper Room to betray Jesus, and Jesus immediately begins talking about the glory of God! It might seem like a strange thing to talk about glory just before the moment of betrayal and ignominious crucifixion. We think of glory in terms of the vain hype and spectacle of the sporting or entertainment worlds. But the Hebrew word for “glory” refers to the weight or value of a thing. The glory of God is related to his love. It is at this very moment that Jesus gives his new commandment: to love one another as he has loved us. In the Old Testament, I was asked to love my neighbour as myself. I was the measure of love. Now, with Jesus, everything changes. His sacrificial love becomes the measure of true love. How am I to achieve this kind of love? With willpower? With my own efforts and capacities? No! Unfortunately many people in the Church continue to believe that it is a matter of effort and application. But love that depends on my own capacities will never arise above mediocrity. It is only when we are invaded by the love that Christ has for us that we become capable of loving in return. When we are immersed in Jesus, he begins to love in us. A valley echoes back a voice which comes from outside of itself. We must become like valleys that echo back the love of God. Like a valley, we do not produce the sound, but we do have the capacity to make it reverberate! A true Christian is not distinguished by his wonderful personal talents, but by the fact that he echoes back the love that he has encountered in Christ. This is the glory of God, this is the glory of Easter, a passage from an existence based on myself, to an existence based on the love that Jesus has for me.