Breaking Open the Word
6th Sunday of Easter
May 14, 2023
How do you know that you are loved? Is it an experience of the mind or of the heart? In our Gospel last week, Jesus stated He lived in an intimate love with the Father. Today, Jesus will empower His followers to love same way He did. And He promised to be with them always.
I am a beloved child of God. How often do I say that? More importantly, do I believe that statement? I am beloved by my Creator, the Creator of the universe. He loves me and every detail of my existence. When my faith in God springs from the unconditional love of God, as a beloved child of His, I will reflect this love in my daily living. I will love God in return and will share this intimate love with others as Christ did.
In our Gospel, we are at the Last Supper, Jesus tells His disciples that He must soon depart. Jesus begins with an “if . . . then” statement that equated relationship with action. "If you love Me, keep My commands." (John 14:15) In Jesus’ time, a clear connection existed between the "words" of a Rabbi’s teaching and the moral "commands" the teaching implied.
In John, both the words and commands of Jesus point toward love. Love between the Father and the Son. Love between the Son and His followers. Now, Jesus tells His disciples to follow His example. Love each other. The love relationship between the Father and the Son, between the Son and His followers, becomes the model for life in the Christian community.
How could His followers love as He did? Jesus provides the power to love in the Holy Spirit, the Paraclete. The word parakletós in the Greek means a person who is called upon for help: a consoler, defender, or advocate; someone invited to journey alongside us, to accompany us, point out the obstacles, defend us, while speaking to us softly, comforting us, offering suggestions, encouraging us… The “Paraclete” is a faithful and inseparable companion.
The Spirit comes alongside us, journeys within us and makes the followers of Christ intimate friends of God. The Holy Spirit is the love shared by the Father and the Son. We have access to the holy heart of God because the Father sent the Son into the world and invites us into the divine life of God.
The Holy Spirit does more than just help us to love as God loves. The Holy Spirit is the Spirit of Truth. (John 14:7a) So what is truth? This is a vast subject. Truth as defined by Webster’s dictionary is the quality or being true; conformity to fact or reality; exact accordance with that which is or has been or shall be. In summary, truth is the conformity of the intellect to what a thing perceived, is. This is objective truth. In our culture many want to make such truth relative. “You have your truth and I have mine.” This is not truth. If one’s perception of something does not conform to what it actually is, then one is in error—no matter how convinced one is and certainly no matter how one feels about it.
People who are colorblind do not see all the true colors before them. Their perceptions are distorted, even though they are not aware of it. When I make a statement about something that does actually exist, then such a statement could be called a truth. Any statement that would contradict that statement would then be an untruth. If such an untrue statement is deliberately made in order to deceive, then that statement is called a lie. Unfortunately, there is so much dishonesty in our society about the very nature of truth that many are confused.
Since God is the source of all that is and knows His creation perfectly, He is the fullness of all truth. God sends His Holy Spirit to those who love Him, so we made be filled with His Spirit of Truth.
Theme in our Life Today
God’s commands are not random, arbitrary expressions of His authority. Rather they are an expression of the Love of a good Father teaching His children the true path to happiness. But this doesn’t mean that following them doesn’t require effort. In speaking about new and complex moral problems, Saint John Paul II said: “it can seem that Christian morality is too demanding, difficult to understand and almost impossible to practice. This is untrue, since Christian morality consists, in the simplicity of the Gospel, in following Jesus Christ, in abandoning oneself to Him, in letting oneself be transformed by His grace and renewed by His mercy, gifts which come to us in the living communion of His Church …. By the light of the Holy Spirit, the living essence of Christian morality can be understood by everyone, even the least learned, but particularly those who are able to preserve with an ‘undivided heart’ (Ps 86:11).”
Worldly people cannot "see" Jesus, for they gaze only upon themselves. But believers would see and have true life because Jesus lived. Just as we love because God loved us, we truly live because God gave us that life. Our life and love depend upon God. We fool ourselves if we believe all life and love depends upon our own efforts. That is the illusion people of the world proclaim today.
Someday, the truth will be known. At some point, everyone will see all life and love come from God. How will they recognize this fact? Through the lives of those who depend upon God, who love God, who draw their every existence from God. Understanding the example of love, believers offer the non-believer a choice. Accept love from its source and receive true life. Or be lost. This moment of choice becomes the moment of judgement. How will my life help others at this moment of judgement?
Prepare for Sunday
Begin each day looking in the mirror saying, “I am a beloved child of God. I am God’s beloved (daughter or son). I am precious in God’s eyes.”
Spend time in prayer contemplating this statement, as a beloved child of God, how will I receive God’s love today? In turn, how will I share God’s love with others?
Ask the Holy Spirit to reveal areas in my life where truth has been hijacked. Seek the Spirit of Truth to lead me into the fullness of life God has prepared for me.