May 26, 2019
by Larry Gillick, S.J.
Creighton University's Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
click here for photo and information about the writer

Sixth Sunday of Easter
Lectionary: 57

Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Ps 67:2-3,5,6,8
Rev 21:10-14, 22-23
Jn 14:23-29

Daily Easter Prayer

Weekly Guide for Daily Prayer

Praying As We Age

Talk about problems in the Church.  It started early,  as we read in the First Reading for the Eucharistic liturgy for today. The ancient question throughout human history is still with us these days and is about who belongs and who does not.

For Jews, any contact with “pagans” was a form of impurity and now they are thinking that perhaps they can belong. The Jews who have been moved by Jesus and the preaching of His apostles are confronted by another problem.  Circumcision was their religious and physical symbol of belonging to the Abrahamic covenant and community. The Jews were feeling that they were not quite in their tradition and so they wanted clarity about belonging.

We read today of the first major conference to solve very important issues and they publish the first kind of Pastoral Letter. Three quite exact requirements are listed which are reflective of the Jewish laws and tradition, but circumcision, as an exact religious requirement is not one of them.

In the Gospel for today’s liturgy the theme of belonging continues. The term “Circumcision of the heart” is referred to in the Hebrew Scriptures and Paul, in the second chapter of Romans, relies on it as well. Belonging to Jesus is more than a physical symbol, though loving Jesus is expressed through our physical bodies. Loving Jesus is more than an emotional sensation of course, though emotions are blessed and quite of the human experience.

I do reverence the young students here who tell me about their being in love. Their expressions of their feelings are spoken as if they are absolutely unique and never have been said out loud before. They just love the other, because, “being in her presence changes me.” Not a thing wrong with that for awhile, I muse to myself. If “he” loves “her” that love will be moved out beyond “her”. “He” will be moved, because “her” love for “him” will move “him” beyond “her” to others while remaining deeply in love with “her”. Otherwise that love is ego-centered and destined for sterility. I usually enjoy the excitementand make sure “he” makes another appointment for next month. How “he” is living beyond the loving is what loving is really about.

Jesus loves each of us and how we love Jesus is both accepting that love, unearned by us and of course, how we live being so loved. The “peace” Jesus leaves with us is not exactly satisfaction as the world gives peace. The peace which Jesus offers frees us from the necessity of self-satisfaction. Being so loved frees us from the fears and heart-troubles of not belonging, not being loved enough and not doing enough to be loved.

The promised “Advocate” will be sent to remind us, not merely of this teaching or that document or those practices, but of Who Jesus is for us and with us and within us. We are reminded by this Holy Spirit of our belonging to Him and to ourselves as a loved gift to others. The “Circumcised Heart” beats to the rhythm of “yes” and “now” and “amen”.  

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