5th Week of Easter
1st Reading: Acts 15:22-31
The Apostles and presbyters, in agreement with the whole Church, decided to choose representatives and to send them to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas. The ones chosen were Judas, who was called Barsabbas, and Silas, leaders among the brothers. This is the letter delivered by them: “The Apostles and the presbyters, your brothers, to the brothers in Antioch, Syria, and Cilicia of Gentile origin: greetings. Since we have heard that some of our number who went out without any mandate from us have upset you with their teachings and disturbed your peace of mind, we have with one accord decided to choose representatives and to send them to you along with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, who have dedicated their lives to the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. So we are sending Judas and Silas who will also convey this same message by word of mouth: ‘It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us not to place on you any burden beyond these necessities, namely, to abstain from meat sacrificed to idols, from blood, from meats of strangled animals, and from unlawful marriage. If you keep free of these, you will be doing what is right. Farewell.’” And so they were sent on their journey. Upon their arrival in Antioch they called the assembly together and delivered the letter. When the people read it, they were delighted with the exhortation.
Gospel: Jn 15:12-17
Jesus said to his disciples: “This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
THIS IS MY COMMANDMENT: Many diocesan catechisms, after listing the Ten Commandments tend to add this phrase: “Jesus summarised these commandments in two: (1) You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind (Dt 6:5), and (2) You shall love your neighbor as yourself (Lev 19:18).” It might be necessary to note that this summary might not have been original to Jesus. In fact, in the Gospel of Luke the scholar of the law summarizes the two parts of the Torah even better in a single sentence (Lk 10:27). What is original to Jesus is what we come across in the gospel of today: “Love one another as I love you.” This is the new commandment. It might be easier to love the neighbour as myself, but to love as Jesus has loved me would too demanding.
Prayer: Lord, grant me to remain in your love so that I can extend it to my neighbours.
SEARCHING TOGETHER THE TRUTH: Jesus promised the assistance of the Holy Spirit in searching the truth. After centuries of centralism, the Second Vatican Council returned to the ecclesiology of communion and participation. In this regard, it elaborated the doctrine of collegiality of bishops and Synods which affirms our solidarity in the responsibility for the whole Church, as its expressed in the words of Peter: “It is the decision of the Holy Spirit and of us.” The word ‘synod’ comes from the combination of two Greek words meaning ‘together on the way’. Hence, the word conveys the idea of moving on a journey together. It is not only an effective process of arriving at practical conclusions; rather, it is an affective process which is done in love, dialogue and respect. Hence, the Church, by calling synods, has had always the awareness of the presence of the Holy Spirit in the fraternity of brothers in community. He has been guiding the ecclesial community in the many challenges it has faced and keeping it journeying together in unity along the path of history.
THE KEY IS LOVE: A young man who was searching for success, moved from one street to the other knocking at different doors. To his dismay, no door was open. He then decided to consult an old man in a nearby village. This old man gave him this statement, “Love is the only key to open the doors.” The same message is pronounced to us today; love is the only key for the success in our families, and communities. For any society to move on it needs love. It is love that breaks down the walls of enmity and the spirit of revenge, creating towers of mercy and forgiveness. Love is the eye that helps one to see him or herself in the neighbour. Love leads to self-empting for the sake of the common good. Love softens the hard-hearted and smoothens the rough roads. Christ shows us the true love. “Love is, in fact, an intensification of life, a completeness, a fullness, a wholeness of life” (Thomas Merton).