Today is the Fifth Sunday after Easter we are now closer to Ascension and Pentecost than Easter, but we are still in the Easter Season which goes on until Pentecost Sunday. the scripture readings of the seven Sundays after Easter describe the reactions of the apostles to the news that Jesus was even more alive after Good Friday than He was before His death on the cross. The readings this Sunday begin to move us along too, as once more we hear the Lord at the Last Supper preparing his disciples for his departure: he does this by giving them a rule to live by, a new commandment. This commandment, “love one another”, is to be the guiding light of the community of believers after Pentecost and the coming of the holy Spirit it is the risen Lord’s parting gift to his Church. Paul tells us that “although his nature was divine, he did not cling to his equality with God, but stripped himself of all privilege to assume the condition of a slave. He became as we are, and appearing in human form humbled himself by being obedient even to the extent of dying, dying on a cross.” And elsewhere Paul writes: “Though he was rich, he became poor.” Do you not see what is new in Christ’s love for us? The law commanded people to love their brothers and sisters as they love themselves, but our Lord Jesus Christ loved us more than himself.
The apostles gradually began to understand how necessary it was for Jesus to die in order to accomplish His mission from the Father, freeing mankind from the ancient curse. Each of the readings show us how the apostles became more and more confident about the future as we should be confidentas well. In the Gospel, taken from Jesus’ farewell discourse just hours before His betrayal by Judas, their Master and Lord solemnly reveals to them a new commandment. Love one another as I have loved you, that is the self-sacrificing love for one another, is to be the sign by which all will know we are His followers. That love is to flow through OUR faith and works, into the structure and authority of His Church. Love is to form the basis for its ministry as well. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”Our new Pope Francis, in the short time since his election, has made real efforts to bring the outward face of the Church more in line with the humble, loving, and caring face of Jesus as it carries out the everyday work of its worldwide mission. May the example of Pope Francis give new life to the spirit of love, truth, and service in every local Church so that it can be said of us in our locality that we have loved on another as Jesus Loved us.