Sixth Sunday in Easter

At some universities, there is a custom that a retiring professor will give his Last Lecture.  It is an expression of the whole effort and fruition of his work, looking back on it from the perspective that only its conclusion can give.  There is an opportunity for utter honesty and freedom in speaking from an uninhibited heart. What held it all together and what were the real goals and motives?  It is the bequest and sharing of what has been lived and experienced.  The Last Lecture. But will anyone listen to it?

In the Gospel, Jesus is sharing his Last Lecture, his Final Discourse.  He is sharing what he has learned from the Father in his human life, what he has experienced.  What he shares is a revelation and needs to be heard at its own level.  It is a free and personal disclosure (I have chosen you.  I have called you friends.)  It must be heard and accepted at the level in which it is given.  It is a gift and a surprise, every time we hear it.  Is anyone listening?  We have heard it so often that it can become a platitude, a truth which becomes a truism available for observation and maybe even a weapon to keep others at a distance.  God is love.  God love you.  The limits of our generosity.  God’s love for us is an insurance policy which we can call upon in emergencies. It is more of a narcotic than a revelation of an open relationship. 

The revelation of God’s love for us reveals the actual range of humanity that underlies our habitual attempts to stake out and defend positions.  Our nature is not one confined to insatiable appetites, coveting, and lusting.  It is more than even refined friendships and altruistic associations.  The range of our human nature and love has been revealed as a capacity to love even as God loves, to love those whom God loves with the love He has for them.  I see that God shows no partiality.  Our human nature is invited (actually commanded) to act out of its sharing and participation in that loving human nature of Christ which remains in the love of the Father.  And love is who he is.

This will certainly get us into trouble.  It calls (commands) us to live lives which are laid down in love for others.  The only way to really live is to love and enter into unguaranteed relations with others.  And if we love, we will surely die.  (Herbert McCabe, OP). Love does not stop when it enters the territory of risk or betrayal.  That would be the kind of love which is kept under protective glass and denies its call (command) to generate life where fear and timidity have control.

This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.  The command is as oppressive and alienating as the command of Jesus to Lazarus:  Come forth.  Unbind him.  It is a command which reveals the love God has for us and is in us (abide in my love) and which unbinds the spirit and energy created in us by that love.  In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he has loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

 Jesus learned love in his life experience.  He learned obedience through what he suffered and experienced.  He does not offer us a theory or a book with the answers in the back.  His word and life are the revelation of the love of God which we are called (commanded) to embody and bear fruit.  We are writing out the content of our Last Lecture in our daily lives by incarnating the Spirit and love with which God loves us.  Our self-worth flourishes in the love we give and the life we lay down for others.  It is in giving love that our own hearts expand. Others are listening to hear a word from us that witnesses to the love God has for us and them. He shows no partiality.