Daily Reflection
May 28th, 2000
Larry Gillick, S.J.
Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

The Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
1 John 4:7-10
John 15:9-17

This weekend in the United States, we pause to have a Memorial Day in honor of all those who have loved this country enough to lay down their lives for its freedom and the freedom of other countries as well.  This weekend, also, we gather at the Eucharist as a memorial celebration of the Christ Who did what He said love is.  "There is no greater love than this- to lay down one's life for one's friends."  We gather to remember that we are His friends whom He has chosen.

In the First Reading, Peter announces that God does not play favorites, but sends the Holy Spirit upon those whom the "first people of God" thought were unloved by God, the "gentiles."  God has chosen a wider definition of "God's chosen people."

The Second Reading for this-week's liturgy is about love, and in some way, answers the question about how we can fulfill the First Commandment which is to love God with all our minds and hearts.  How can we do that?  Few of us have ever felt intense love for God as we might with spouses, family and friends.  John gives us an insight by telling us, "Love then consists in this, not that we love God, but that He has loved us and has sent His son as an offering for our sins."

Loving God has to do with letting God love us and allowing that love to be shown to us in the life, death and resurrection of God's son. 

There is also the response to the reception of Jesus which is that we are to share His love through us with others.  This theme is intensified by our hearing of the continuation of Jesus' words at the Last Supper.  This is a very difficult commandment to complete in our every-day life.  It would be an interesting exercise to try to rewrite these verses so as to make them a little more realistic.

"Love one another as I loved you."  That sounds wonderful at weddings and anniversaries and maybe on Memorial Day, but did Jesus mean everybody and every day?  Readings like these bring out the best in our excuse-making faculties.  It is so embarrassing to realize that though we understand exactly what He said and meant, we still play favorites with our affections, attentions and interests.

It is another Memorial Sunday for us who gather around His table.  Instead of placing flowers and flags on the altar of remembrance, we place Christ's Body and Blood, given for us and now to us.  Instead of walking away from the place of burial, we walk away from the altar of Christ's resurrection and our own.  We walk, chosen again, loved again and reminded again that we are no longer servants but friends of Him and in Him, call to be loving friends of each other.

God plays no favorites with the Divine love for us and sends the Spirit upon the circumcised and uncircumcised as well.  Jesus asks us to let the Spirit free us to love those we like and those we just do not know well enough yet.  These are dangerous readings and we'd rather confine them to weddings, so that we wouldn't have to practice them ourselves, but rather the newly married couple would love each other well. 

What we place on the altar is the ultimate act of God's love for us and we are missioned to extend that same love to others, but when we don't- then what?  Jesus is still choosing us, forgiving us, sending us and having His own Memorial Day, again laying down His life for His friends who find it hard to love totally.

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