How many of us love God with all of our minds, hearts, and all of our being? How many of us keep God’s commandments? How many of us consider ourselves true or authentic children of God? How many of us would give our lives and die for a friend? It would be very important to think deeply about these questions and have answers; otherwise, we would be Christian Catholics in name only and not in truth.
On this Sixth Sunday of Easter, our Jesus continues to challenge us and invites us to go beyond what we believe, profess, and talk about Him. If we really believe in Him, may it be evident, not only in words but in deeds and actions. Let’s seriously delve into the Gospel this Sunday and ask ourselves if we are putting into practice what He commands us to do. “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 your friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.” (Saint John 15, 12-15).
The new commandment that Jesus gives us, exhorts us and invites us to love all of our brothers and sisters, regardless of race, color, nationality or language because we are all sons and daughters of the same God. He has created us in His image and likeness. If we all were to see and treat each other as sons and daughters of God, another world and reality would be in our world. Poverty, discrimination, racism, exploitation and all the social sins that surround our world would end. If we are not willing to give our lives for a friend, much less would we do it for an enemy. However, Jesus died for all of us, friends and enemies, just and unjust, saints and sinners because He wants us to be with Him in heaven for all eternity. That is why Saint John himself, in one of his first letters, tells us to love us from the heart, not from the lips only. When one loves God sincerely, one is able to love all people and forgive at all times because God loves us and forgives us unconditionally. Hating and holding a grudge make the heart sick; and the heart over time loses its vitality and its desire to love.
If we cannot love and forgive from the heart, let us ask God to give us a heart like his so that we can love and forgive as his Son commands us. The more we love and forgive, the more we will resemble Jesus, the more we will be doing his will. And the more we do his will, the happier we will live, fulfilled and preparing ourselves for eternal life “because we will see God as he is.” It sounds like something impossible to do, but for God everything is possible. Let’s try every day to give our best, leaving mediocrity, conformism and hypocrisy aside. Let’s not leave everything in the hands of God. He does his part in every moment and we do ours. Amen.
With love and affection, Padre Alberto Villafan, ofm.
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