The 5th Sunday of Easter – 15th May 2022
Lectionary Readings: Acts 14:21-27; Ps. 145: 8-13; Rev. 21:1-5; Jn. 13:31-35
Theme: Love one another just as I have loved you.
“I give you a new commandment: love one another, as I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (John 13:34). I have heard this commandment hundreds of times. I am sure, for all Christians, we have heard this commandment time and time again. We know also, that we all read from the same text, and we all come up with different meanings, understandings and interpretations. It is very interesting to look at our own views, perspectives and also the role of the Holy Spirit working in each and every one of us. Perhaps, I am talking here of the laity, the backbone of our church, of them having the prophetic and priestly role of understanding the Scriptures. To be more precise, speaking here of the Third World Countries and I am referring here to Oceania where I am from. Decades ago, people had no formal formation in the understanding of the Sacred Scriptures, but somehow, through the grace and the working of the Holy Spirit, they received the gift of understanding the Word of God.
I am interested in and drawn to the new commandment. What is it that makes this commandment new? In the First Testament in Torah and the tradition of Israel, we hear of loving God and one’s neighbor with all one’s strength. (Dt. 6:4-7). Confucius, five centuries before Christ, set forth his Golden Rule: “Do not impose on others what you do not wish for yourself”. In the language of the Golden Rule, it is: “Treat others as you would like them to treat you”. Aristotle and the great Greek philosophers taught and recommended the same pathway of life.
What is new about this commandment of Jesus? In the Sermon of the Mount, we learn to love what is most hateful and most unreasonable. Jesus himself gave us the example of showing forgiveness and mercy. There is no greater love, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. On the cross he said: “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do” (Luke 23:34). Stephen echoed these words at his stoning: “Lord, do not hold this sin against them” (Acts 7:60). The newness and uniqueness of this new commandment challenges us to respond to evil with good, to work towards healing rather than revenge.
If we believe that we are made in the image and likeness of God, then there is something divine in everyone. We must not lose sight of that divine nature which is in everyone. Jesus is asking us to love without any human reason to do so. Perhaps the command of love before the time of Jesus, was more reasonable. This new commandment of love may seem impossible to live, but we put our trust in the Lord to help us. God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit helps us to grow in the knowledge of God and his great love (Romans 5:5. 8:35-39). The Holy Spirit will open our ears to hear and understand the Word of God.
Lord Jesus, in love you created me, and called me to follow you. Grant me your grace to live your new commandment with your steadfast love and faithfulness. May I dwell daily in your new commandment and give praise to you in the sanctuary of my heart.
For Reflection and Discussion:  How has the Holy Spirit enlightened me through the Jewish tools for interpreting Scripture?  What is my appreciation of the new commandment and the call to love my enemies?  When I practice Lectio Divina, how attentive am I to listening to the Word of God?
Bibliography: The Jerusalem Bible, Darton, Longman &Dodd Ltd 1974; https:// biblehub.com
This week’s Sunday Liturgy Commentary was prepared by
‘Aliki Langi, Sydney, Australia. Bat Kol Alumnus 2005, 2018