The first reading from the Acts of the Apostles narrates how Paul and Barnabas proclaimed the good news and made a considerable number of disciples. They made a considerable number of converts not without hardship, but with encouraging each other in the midst of challenges. We were told they returned to Lystr, to Iconium and to Antioch to strengthen the spirit of the disciples.
There was a great need to encourage one another in the service of God. When we encourage one another, it brings healing and restores hope and this is what gives fruit to the work of evangelization. In the same way, when we encourage each other’s spirit, we make more progress and achieve more in our relationships and families. The last point here for us to take is commending our project to God with prayer and fasting.
The central message in today’s Gospel is the command of Jesus to all of us, “I give you a new commandment, Love One Another as I have loved you.” To be able to understand the message we need to find out how Jesus loved us. There are five ways in which Jesus loved us and it is these five ways that He encourages us to love one another. First, Jesus loved us sacrificially, Jesus sacrificed everything for us. He gave himself up completely for the love He has for us without holding back anything. At the end He gave us even the last thing He had, His mother Mary to be our mother. In the same way, Jesus calls each one of us to learn how to sacrifice for others. We begin that from our families and those dear to us to make sacrifices for the other.
Second, Jesus loved us selflessly. There was nothing He wished to gain from loving us, yet He emptied Himself for us. So often we think of what will this love do for me, or what would I benefit from a particular relationship or friendship which means it is our happiness that we are seeking. But Jesus never thought of Himself. His one desire was to give Himself and all He had for those He loved. We are all called to love as Jesus loved us and avoid selfishness. Third, He loved us with an understanding heart. He understands us the way we are and loved us the way we are. He understands our doubt, our weaknesses, our anxieties and our failings and yet He loved us. In the same way, we are called to love one another by understanding each other the way we are. We should not love people by wanting them to be the way we are or the way we want them to be, rather let’s love them as they are.
Jesus loved us patiently; He is always patient with us. He was always patient with Peter and His disciples, even when they failed to realize who He was and failed to understand who He is. He wants us to be patient with ourselves and patient with one another. Even when the apostles like Peter, Thomas and others could not understand Him, He still loved them. Paul in his letter 1 Cor 13:4-7 tells us that love is patient and kind, love is not jealous or boastful, it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way, it is not irritable, or resentful, it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things and endures all things.
Finally, He loved us forgivingly. He loved His disciples despite all their betrayals. Their leader was to deny Him. They all forsake Him in the hour of need. They never understood Him, and were insensitive, but Jesus held nothing against them: there was no failure which He could not forgive, the love which has not learned to forgive cannot do anything but die. Real love and true love must be built on forgiveness. If truly we love our spouses, our brothers, sisters, parents, children and friends we must learn to forgive them.
I pray in this Mass that God gives us that great heart and spirit to love one another as Jesus loved us. Happy Sunday to you all.
Fr. Tony OkoloBACK TO LIST