ACTS 14:21-27, REV 21:1-5, JN 13:31-35
– Edmond Lo
The joy and hope of Easter have reached a new height as the Church enters her 5th Sunday of celebration: Jesus leaving his new commandment to love one another with his disciples while preparing for his Passion and glorification (gospel reading), Paul and Barnabas accomplishing their work to proclaim the good news to the Gentiles (first reading), the New Jerusalem coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband (second reading).
Already through 4 consecutive Easter Sundays the Church faithful have heard good news one after another through the gospel readings:
- Easter Sunday – Jesus’ resurrection;
- 2nd Sunday of Easter – The apostles were given the authority to forgive and retain sins after receiving the Holy Spirit from the risen Christ; Jesus’ divinity acknowledged by Thomas;
- 3rd Sunday of Easter – Peter’s reconciliation with Jesus after denying him three times, and as the Church leader was given the important role of keeping and feeding Jesus’ sheep;
- 4th Sunday of Easter – Jesus the Good Shepherd knows his sheep and will not let them perish.
Only four weeks ago, the force of evil was the order of the day. Confusion reigned.
But Jesus’ resurrection has brought a drastic turn of events!
Now more good news are on the way in this events-filled period of the Church’s liturgical year: Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit to begin a new era of the Church on the sixth Sunday of Easter, the Ascension, and then the Pentecost! With renewed hopes and joyful hearts that Easter brings, let’s join the Church, the Bride, to pray for the return of her Groom: “Amen! Come, Lord Jesus!” (Rev 22:20) Amen! Marana tha! (CCC1130)
THE NEW COMMANDMENT
– Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications, Macau
“I give you a new commandment: love one another just as I have loved you!” To underline the importance he will repeat two more times before walking to the Gethsemane: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you” (Jn 15:12), (Jn 15:17). He speaks like someone who wants to leave an inheritance: I give—he says (v. 34). We ourselves could have chosen a gift among many that he possessed, all—I think—could have asked the power to work miracles. He offered instead a new commandment.
Commandment for us is tantamount to taxation, heavy commitment to fulfill, weight to bear.
Is it a new commandment? Is it not already written in the Old Testament: “Love your neighbor as yourself” (Lev 19:18)? Let us grasp where the novelty is.
Regarding what the Old Testament recommended the second part is certainly new: “as I have loved you, you also must love one another” (v. 34). The measure of love proposed to us by Jesus is not the one we use for ourselves, but what he has had for us. The commandment is new because it is not spontaneous for people to love those who do not deserve it or cannot reciprocate. It is not normal to do good to one’s own enemies. Jesus loved the poor, the sick, the marginalized, the wicked, the corrupt, his executioners because only loving them he could get them out of their condition of meanness, misery and sin.
It is the fact that no one before Jesus has ever attempted to build a society based on a love like his. The Christian community is set as an alternative, as a new proposal to all the old societies of the world, to those based on competition, meritocracy, money and power. It is this love that must “glorify” the disciples of Christ.
By the mouth of Jeremiah, God announced: “The time is coming when I will forge a new covenant with the people of Israel” (Jer 31:31). The old covenant was drawn up on the basis of the Ten Commandments. The new alliance is linked to the compliance with a unique, new commandment: love to the brother, such as that Jesus was capable.
Christians are not people different from others; they do not wear badges, do not live out of the world. What distinguishes them is the logic of the gratuitous love, that of Jesus, that of the Father.