Fr. Jerome Machar, OCSO
5th Sunday of Easter
Acts 14: 21-27; Revelation 21: 1-5a; John 13: 31-33a, 34-35
“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn. 13: 35). Through Baptism, God recreated us in the image of His Son. He has conformed us to the image of His Son. Since Christ is the love of the Father made visible and tangible, we are to extend God’s love to the whole of creation. Having been confirmed in the faith, we are called to proclaim the Gospel of the Kingdom by the lives we live. God is love and those who abide in love abide in God. The world will know that we are followers of Christ if we love the people God loves.
The law of God is love and the name of God is mercy. Those who are disciples of Christ are called to show compassionate love and infinite mercy to all we meet. The Father manifested His love for the world by sending us His Only-begotten Son. The Son manifested His love by sending His disciples into the world. The love of God which we have received as a gift, we are to give as a gift. Leo the Great put it this way: “Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member” (Leo the Great).
This is how the world will know that you have been crucified with Christ and that your life is now hidden with Christ in God, if you have love for one another. Just as Christ showed His love for us by surrendering himself for the life of the world, so also are we to lay down our lives so that others might live. Faith that does not manifest itself in acts of love is lifeless. Grace is not grace unless it is lavished upon others. Only the empty vessel can be filled. Remember what the apostle to the gentiles wrote: “We have this treasure in jars of clay to show that this all-surpassing power is from God and not from us” (2. Cor. 4:7). Since our citizenship is in the kingdom of light and life we are to have nothing to do with the works of darkness and death. We are clay lamps that bear the Fire of the Spirit. We are challenged by the Risen Lord to let our light shine before all people so that they may know the depths of love and become obedient to the will of God and the demands of faith.
We who have contemplated the Lord’s glory, are commissioned to make the Light of Christ visible to the whole world. As light was the beginning of the first creation, so the Light of Christ is the beginning of the new creation. Through the power of the Resurrection, man who was created in the image and likeness of God is enabled to share the very life of God. “The Lord, who is the Spirit, makes us more and more like him as we are changed into is glorious image” (2 Cor. 3:18). Having been made in the image of God who is love, we are make known the love God has lavished on us in Christ. “Seeing with the eyes of Christ, I can give to others much more than their outward necessities; I can give them the look of love which they crave”
(Pope Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est, 18).
This is how all will know that we are disciples of Jesus, if we ascribe all our works to the mercy of God the Father and to the love of the risen Christ. Christ works in us not only to will and to do good; but He also works in us making what we do successful. In his first Letter, St. John wrote: “Greater is He who is in you the he who is in the world” (1 Jn. 4:4). The word of God is a word of truth and grace. His works are works of mercy and compassion. All that God says and does flows from the boundless love of His heart. All men will know that we are children of God if, like Him, we are merciful and compassionate, slow to anger and abundant in kindness and truth. Listening for and appreciating the love of God allows us to live the commandment to love others.
Through the mystery of the Incarnation the Beloved Son came into the world to seek out and find the lost. Rich in mercy, He laid down His life to save sinners and to recreate them in His holiness. Moved by pity, He redeemed mankind and while on earth showed compassion to all who came to Him. In Him who is risen from the dead, all things are recreated. His victory over sin and death is the cause of our joy because the old order of things has passed away. Christ, our Paschal Lord makes all things new. The joys that Christ imparts are like an effervescent fountain, pure, refreshing, abundant and eternal. “As we have borne the image of the earthy, so let us also bear the image of Him Who is from heaven , we must greatly rejoice over this change, whereby we are translated from earthly degradation to heavenly dignity through His unspeakable mercy, Who descended into our estate that He might promote us to His, by assuming not only the substance but also the conditions of sinful nature, and by allowing the impassibility of Godhead to be affected by all the miseries which are the lot of mortal manhood” (Leo the Great).
This is how we can know that we have truly put on the new person, if we strive to look at others with eyes of Christ and to love them with the heart of the heavenly Father. The distinguishing character of a disciple of Christ is not some outward garb or austerity of life but fraternal love and compassion for those in need. Then we will manifest the depth of God’s love for the human race. “Merciful God and Father of all, wake us from the slumber of indifference, open our eyes to [others’] suffering, and free us from the insensitivity born of worldly comfort and self-centeredness” (Pope Francis).