The Sixth Sunday of Easter
[Scripture Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17]
Orders from headquarters should not be dismissed lightly. They are a mode of action, a direction to take and a course not open for discussion. There is a certain aura of respectability and obligation that comes from the office of authority. To question its position is not usually taken by those who know what is good for them. Compliance is expected for those under its jurisdiction. To say the least, it keeps everyone in line.
In the Gospel today, Jesus speaks about the necessity of love quite often. There is something about this word that is a source of consternation among some of those who hear it. Rightly understood it implies an obligation that they might think they are unable to match. It resounds in the practical order where control of things may not be their strongest attribute. The word occurs seventeen times in two readings today. It is not a suggestion. It is not toleration. It is not a preferential option. It is used as a command.
It can be used as a noun or as a verb. A verb is a word that shows action. “God so loved the world that he sent his only Son.” Jesus was under orders. The type of death he endured was not easy. Crucifixion did not affect any vital organ of the body. The victim died in agony. The motivation is revealed as love. It is one of the three theological virtues that is able to be exercised in their life and may continue forever in the next. Faith gives way to vision and hope gives way to possession.
The end of God’s plan, the whole purpose of Christ’s coming and of the apostolic preaching is that we might share his life which is communicated to us through his Son. The initiative in Christian life is with God. It is he who calls us to a particular mission or state. His choice is a pure gift. Orders from headquarters should not be dismissed lightly. To be taken out by friendly fire is the way to go. Especially when it leads to the glory of God and the salvation of souls.
The Sixth Sunday of Easter
[Scripture Readings: Acts 15: 1-2, 22-29; Rev. 21: 10-23, John 14: 23-29]
Not long ago a four year old girl heard that Jesus lives in the hearts of those who love him. Struggling to grasp what this could mean she climbed into her mother’s lap one day and pressed her ear tightly against her side. “Honey, what are you doing?” her mother asked. The child made a sign to be quiet, her index finger across her lips, and whispered, “I’m listening for Jesus inside you.” Enjoying her closeness, she let her daughter listen for awhile, and then said, “Well, did you hear Jesus within me?” “Yes, I did,” she replied, “it sounds to me like he’s making coffee.”
What a delightful way to think of this astonishing mystery. For sure, Jesus isn’t making coffee, but this little girl had the right idea. His presence in our hearts is as normal as sharing a cup of coffee with someone you love. When the great German theologian, Karl Rahner, spoke about the necessity of an intimate love for Jesus, a fellow professor said to him, “That’s all right as long as you don’t get sentimental.” Rahner replied, “You are really dealing with Jesus only when you can hug him.” (Celebration May, 2001, 219.) Jesus, himself, expresses it this way: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if any one hears my voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and eat with him, and he with me” (Rev. 3:20). Whether you compare intimacy with Jesus to sharing a cup of coffee, or a hug, or a meal with him, the reality is the true presence of Christ in the hearts of those who love him.
St. Augustine was overwhelmed by this mystery. He writes, “Late have I loved Thee, O Beauty, ever ancient, ever new! Late have I loved Thee. For behold, you were within me, and I was in the world outside myself, and there I sought you; I, unlovely, rushed heedlessly among the things of beauty you made. You were with me, but I was not with Thee. The beautiful things of this world kept me far from you. . . You called, you cried aloud, you broke through my deafness. You shone upon me, your radiance enveloped me, and chased away my blindness. Your scent came to me, and I drew in my breath and do pant after Thee. I tasted, and now I hunger and thirst for you. You touched me, and now I burn for you. . .” (Confessions Bk 10, ch. 27:38)
Jesus made the greatest of all promises to his disciples when he was sharing the Last Supper with them in the large upper room: “Whoever loves me will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him” (Jn. 14:23). The outer space of that intimate meal between Jesus and his disciples is now an archetype or pattern for the loving presence of Jesus within our inner space. Like the Last Supper, our intimacy with Jesus is always communal. Most of all it is a communion with the Trinity, because Jesus brings the Father and the Holy Spirit with him to make us sharers in their divine love affair. Imagine being at a meal in the uppermost room of your heart and having a cup of cappuccino with these three divine lovers who want you to be swept up into their intimate romance, even to the point of being divinized by them. Who ever dreamed we could be lifted up so high and included in such a passionate affair with God?
There is a second reason why intimacy with Jesus is always communal, like the Last Supper. All who receive the consecrated bread and wine of Jesus become one body with him and with each other by the power of his Spirit. The Holy Spirit dwelling within us teaches us all things, especially to grow in greater and greater love for everyone. When God dwells in the upper room of our hearts we become tabernacles for the world bringing the loving presence of God wherever we go.
When you are dancing in your heart with God who loves you, your joy and peace overflows. Who is hungry for divine love and feels it’s warmth in your smile? Who is depressed and experiences divine comfort by your touch, your caress? Who is dismayed by God’s absence and finds God in your presence? Who is upset or angry, fostering discord or hate, until defused by your kindness and concern, your willingness to listen and understand? (Walter Burghardt, S.J. “Sir We would Like to See Jesus,” 79). The more you take time to have a cup of coffee with Jesus in your heart, the more you will radiate his love through the sanctuary lamp of your eyes and face. For God’s divine indwelling is the source of our life of prayer and of true mysticism, of peace and happiness.
Seek Jesus within you. May the indwelling of Christ make your spirit spin, your bones dance, your blood run hot, your flesh tremble with excitement, and your pulse beat faster, because heaven is not so much up as in”