Breaking Open the Word

May 9, 2021


6th Sunday of Easter



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The first reading from Acts, Peter comes to realize that this gift of salvation is to be extended to uncircumcised Gentiles as well as Jews.  Anyone who reverences God and acts according to God’s will is acceptable to God.   The story of Cornelius transitions us from the apostles’ ministry to the Jews to their mission to the Gentiles.  Cornelius isn’t Jewish, but he is devout and God-fearing. 


In the second reading, one word characterizes this passage from John: love.  But something different from our immediate understanding of “love” is offered here.  Yes, we know that the greatest commandment is to love.  But what we perhaps tend to forget is how much we have been loved.  That’s what John wants to point out to us: “The most important thing about Christian love, is this: God first loved us and proved it.”   


In today’s Gospel, Jesus makes it clear that his leaving is not everything.   He promises that his disciples will live on his love by keeping the commandments.


Gospel Explained

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The theme of love is taken up again in this Gospel passage.  It seems important, however, to realize that the writer here has Jesus speaking to an event, an action on God’s part, rather than a state of being or ongoing relationship.    The enduring relationship between God and Jesus is included here, but the emphasis is on the great act of love that we call the redemption, an event that took place at a point in human history, an event that has consequences.   The consequences are that have been loved into a new existence.   We are no longer slaves, but friends of God.  There is no longer any question of what we must do in return.   We must love one another. 


Today’s Theme:

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The only commandment Jesus gives us in John’s Gospel is to love one another.   The love we are to have for one another is all encompassing.   Before He gives this commandment, Jesus washes the feet of his disciples.   He assumes the role of a slave in order to help his followers understand the self-giving love to which he calls them.  His startling gesture points ahead to his crucifixion. 


Theme in Our Life

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In family life, we have many opportunities to show love in action.  Each time we postpone a task to tend to the needs of another, we show ourselves to be on the path to following the example of love shown to us by Jesus.  Sometimes the sacrifices we are called upon to make for others are small.   But these small choices to love and to serve others prepare us for the larger choices and sacrifices that we may be called upon to make.  If we are people who have practiced showing our love for others with generosity, we will also be people willing to lay down our lives for those we love. 


Preparing for Sunday

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To Prepare for this Sunday’s Liturgy of the Word, consider the following:


  1. As you reflect on Jesus calling you his friend, what thoughts and feelings come to you? How might you respond this week? 

  2. When in the last two weeks did you recognize God’s love in your life? 

  3. What does it mean in your life to love yourself?  What things hinder you from loving yourself? 

  4. Which people do you find most difficult to notice and be concerned about? 

Lord Jesus, 

I give you my hands to do your work. 

I give you my feet to go your way. 

I give you my eyes to see as you do. 

I give you my tongue to speak your words. 

I give you my mind that you may think in me. 


Above all, I give you my heart

That you may love in me your Father and all mankind. 


I give you my whole self that you may grow in me, so that it is you, Lord Jesus, who live and work in me.   I ask this in Jesus’ name.   Amen