Reflection for Sunday – May 15, 2022
Readings: Acts 14:21-27, Revelations. 21:1-5a, John. 13:31-33a, 34-35
Click here to download a PDF of this homily.
Preacher: Irene Goodwin
We have only several weeks left to the Easter Season. We have celebrated the resurrection of Jesus and have heard the appearance stories.
Now the lectionary transports us back to the Farewell Meal. Why? Jesus gathered with his close friends, those who have traveled with Him through the years. Jesus knew it was all about to end. He would give His life away for them. Jesus told his friends He was about to be glorified. By His death and resurrection Jesus would reveal who God is, who Jesus is and what they are to each other.
Then Jesus gave the disciples some last-minute instructions. Does He give them a schematic for a new Church? Does He write down a new list of laws? Does He give them new theologies or dogmas? What is the urgent message Jesus must impart to His disciples? Jesus’ last-minute command to His friends is called a new commandment, “to love one another as I have loved you.” Why do we call this a new commandment when the command to love is the heart of the Torah? Jesus asked something more of His disciples. He has asked them to enter into a love that marks the relationship of God and Jesus.
When Jesus was done talking to them and washed their feet, He got up from the table and showed them what it meant to love as He has loved. It is a willingness to give one’s life away for another. He did not get up one day and say, “today I will die.” Rather it was the way He lived. Like Martin Luther King and Oscar Romero, Jesus knew that by his way of life He put himself in jeopardy.
Living in a way where we daily give away life for another is not easy. Is such love possible? Perhaps not. Today’s reading from Revelation says, “God will be among mortals, making all things new.” We can only love this way through the grace of God, knowing God is with us and in us.
I think we have seen this grace being played out before us on our TVs. Some have stayed ready to fight and perhaps die for their country. They don’t wish to die; however, the possibility is great. Others have fled. They do not flee to save themselves. They leave behind all they have known realizing they may never see their spouses, parents or siblings again. They are giving away the life they have known! They do so to save their children or the elderly.
In the past two years we have watched as very tired hospital personnel continue to show up to take care of the sick. This was particularly true in the early days of the pandemic when they really were putting their lives in danger. Is God glorified in these moments?
There are unique times in our lives when we may be faced with opportunity to save another. To drag a person out of a burning car or jump into the subway tracks to help someone out. That is certainly a willingness to give a life away. Most moments are not that dramatic. However what Jesus was talking about was a lifestyle that put others ahead of self. What might giving life away look like for us? Many of us might eagerly get on a plane to help out refugees in Poland. However, since that might not be practical, we do what we can? We bring supplies to be sent to Ukraine or send money to help relief organizations. This is all part of giving something of ourselves away. Another way we might give our life away is by how we react to people with whom we disagree. Our country and Church are split over the pandemic. Some of us remember the fight in our country over Roe v. Wade. Not a pretty memory. Once again, we watch this fight that will no doubt split our country and Church even further. How can we find ways to talk with people about how we feel while at the same time listening to them and their viewpoint? Instead of fighting to prove we are right, we might try to help pregnant women, particularly those living in poverty.
Could we imagine if all people of faith worked less at being right and more at giving our lives away bit by bit? Perhaps the reign of God really would feel like it is present. Is daily choosing to love as Jesus loved what the Glory of God looks like? Have you met people like that? They are not perfect people for sure yet we take notice of the love they share wherever they go and surely God is glorified in them.
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Irene’s homily is excellent! She draws on all the Easter readings and also gives the Jewish people their due (not a hint of anti-Semitism). Her examples are genuine and relatable. Thank you, Irene.