6th SUNDAY OF EASTER (A)
Sunday 14 May 2023
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Advocate, to be with you forever. This is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him. You know him, because he abides with you, and he will be in you.”
John the Evangelist recounts Jesus’ long farewell discourse with His apostles during the Last Supper. The atmosphere is intimate and the Master shares with them the essence of His message: Love. A concept so overused and exaggerated nowadays, that unfortunately, in many cases, its authentic meaning is debased.
Jesus began his conversation asking “if”. It is a conjugation with only one syllable, but it is decisive for the overall meaning of the sentence. It highlights the margins of the potential of human FREEDOM. The moment has arrived for the disciples to decide: to become protagonists and not just spectators of the love of Jesus.
Just like for the disciples, the occasion has arrived for each of us to decide: to love and to continue loving, no matter the difficulties, or fatigue; no matter if the sentimental value has grown weaker… To love implies a free decision – I want to respond, in this situation, the love of Jesus who has loved me first!
Jesus says, if you decide to love me, keep my commandments. But what are they? Nowhere in John’s Gospel do we find a list of commandments or precepts, except for once, with one single command, in chapter 13, vv. 34-35: “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another”. So, commandments (plural) refer in turn to the “new commandment” to love others. It is precisely on this point that our life of faith rests. It is clear that the Christian experience is not a private event, but pushes us to go and reach out to others: being willing to wash each other’s feet and to allow other to wash ours; to forgive and to be forgiven; to want the good, the best for others, and to overcome that self-centring force of selfishness and closure to others. Love doesn’t so much consist of sentiments or words. It is much more to do with facts, events, forgiveness, welcome and acceptance!
To love is the most important and mature decision in our life. Everything else is consequential. As St Augustine of Hippo says in his celebrated saying, “love, then do what you will!” (Commentary on 1 John 7:8).