FROM A READING FOR MAY 6, SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER
‘While Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who heard the word. The circumcised believers were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out even on the Gentiles...’ — Acts 10:44-45

Next week, we celebrate Mother’s Day; in about six weeks, we will celebrate Father’s Day. There is a reason we celebrate these holidays in honor of our parents: It is from our parents that we learn the meaning of true love.

What is true love? “Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous; is not pompous; it does not seek its own interests; it is not quick-tempered; it does not brood over injury; it does not rejoice over wrongdoing, but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1 Cor 12:4-8).

This is Christian love, which is not governed by emotions, but rather is shaped by the revelatory truth that God loves us.

“God sent His only begotten Son into the world so that we might have life through Him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son as expiation for our sins” (1 Jn 4:9-10). This love of God which has been revealed in His Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, not only profoundly affects our relationship with God, it is also supposed to affect our relationships with one another.

To understand that better, let us look at the first reading (Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48). The passage tells the story of Roman centurion Cornelius, who has a dream in which the angel of the Lord tells him to send for Peter the Apostle.

The act of love comes with Peter responding to the request. The Romans were occupiers of Jerusalem, as well as all of Judea and Israel. The Romans had crucified Jesus Christ and made the lives of all the inhabitants of the land miserable. Peter could have refused the request and not met with the centurion. He put aside suspicion, hatred and division and went to the home of Cornelius.

Once there, Peter said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation, whoever fears Him and acts uprightly is acceptable to Him.” Peter’s act of love allowed the outpouring of God’s spirit upon the entire household.

Peter challenged the disciples who did not believe that those who were gentiles should be baptized before they became Jews: “‘Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?’ He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ” (Acts 10:48).

Peter challenges us today to put aside our own suspicions, fear, hatred and divisions, so that we can overcome the crisis of love we have in our nation and world today. God’s love is supposed to affect and shape our relationships with others, but something has happened to how God’s love is affecting our lives.

If God’s love never fails and we are recipients of that never-failing love, is it God’s love that is failing, or is it us who are failing God? Our God never abandons us. He sent His only begotten Son into the world.

The Gospel (Jn 15:9-17) is the famous vine and branches passage. Jesus is the vine, we are the branches and our heavenly Father is the vine grower. Jesus calls us to remain in His love: “As the Father has loved me, so I also love you.”

As the branches of the vine, we are called to bear fruit and the fruit we are called to bear is Christ’s love. Love is one of the fruits of the Holy Spirit. It is our ability to remain in Jesus as Jesus remains in the Father that enables the Holy Spirit to help to bear forth God’s love.

“If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in His love” (Jn 15:10). The love of God transforms not only our relationship with God, but also our relationship with others.

“This is my commandment: Love one another as I have love you. No one has a greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend” (Jn 15:12). This is a transformative love which frees us from sin and death: “I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his mater is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything” (15:15).

The Scriptures reveal to us God’s plan of salvation, and so we are called His friends. As friends who are well loved by our God, we in turn are called to love as our God loves, and reveal this love to all the nations: “The Lord has revealed to the nations His saving power” (Ps 98:1-4).

We know that God’s love never fails, so how can we fail God by not loving?