Fifth Easter

The Introduction 

Everything is new in the Scriptures this week. Even the commandments! The big Ten are boiled down to one. A new law for a new and inclusive people: love. For some folks, love is too small and vague and squishy to work as a commandment. How are we to keep law and order with mere sentimental feeling? This is a misunderstanding of the love command. It doesn’t mean a return to bell-bottoms and peace signs. Love is a tall order, a mighty work that challenges the strong to be relentless, the brave to be even bolder. Love is not vague: It is precise to the last detail of our lives, eliciting very practical and direct responses to the corporal and spiritual needs of our community. And love is not squishy. It looks you right in the eye and dares you to claim an authority higher than its calling. The Ten Commandments are a walk in the park compared to the summons to love. It is always easier NOT to do something than to DO something.

How do you obey the command to love: in your relationships with others, in your stewardship of goods, in your fidelity to God?

The Scripture (John 13: 34-35) The New Commandment

Jesus said, “Let me give you a new command: love one another. In the same way I loved you, you love one another. This is how everyone will recognise that you are my disciples – when they see the love you have for each other”.

The Reflection

Over 150 years ago no one cared for the lepers on the Hawaiian Islands. They were driven out of their homes and even off their island. The lepers were taken to a special island called Molokai. Here they were abandoned on the beach, left to suffer and to die. One man was anxious to do what he could. He was a Catholic priest, Father Damien. He went to Molokai and was shocked at the state of the lepers. A collection of filthy ramshackle huts housed over 800 lepers. Many were helpless, weak and unable to do anything. Yet in their troubles they built a small chapel. Father Damien set to work. He encouraged those who were able to tidy up the mess they lived in, to build better homes and to provide a decent water supply. For 13 years he stayed with the lepers and in the end caught the disease himself. He said he was proud and privileged to be one of them. They wanted him to leave Molokai and receive better attention but he refused. Even in his last illness he gave his blankets to others in their need. He continued to show to the end his love of others, that they were not without hope and that the glory of God was for them as for others.

The Commissioning

Share generously the love that God has given you. It is a powerful, relevant love. Where self-serving rules, love will speak of giving, not receiving. Where people are hurting, love will stand patiently beside them. Where injustice is a reality, love will call out for a different response. Where discrimination is found, love will insist on acceptance. Where death or loss is present, love will listen and direct towards new life. Love is powerful. Share generously the love that God has given you. It is a powerful, relevant love.

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