Sunday, May 21, 2006

Reveals to the nations his saving power

The lessons for the sixth Sunday of Easter:

  • Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 (diff)
  • Psalm 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
  • 1 John 4:7-10
  • John 15:9-17
Why in the world should someone believe in God these days? We do not see the our world as "god-haunted" -- we have no problems explaining everything we experience in scientific terms, even those things we don't understand well. The things we can see and touch, these things we are sure of. God is a matter of personal opinion, at best.

When you look at the ancestry of the verb to believe you discover it does not mean to have an opinion about something. At its root it means to set one's heart on something. If we are to believe in God, we are to set our hearts on him, to turn our lives around to center on Him. But why would we do this? Is there an experience in this seemingly godless world that would make us thing that God is real?

There is -- the experience of being loved. The second lesson today is from the first letter of John:
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only 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.
When we say we have faith, that we will set our hearts on God, we are saying that the ultimate ground of reality, behind everything we see or feel or hear or touch, is love. If we do not know love, we cannot know God. And love is not something abstract, it is concrete, it is personal. We can believe that God exists, because somebody, somewhere, sometime, loved us in such a way that we could see that God could exist, that love really does make sense. Each one of us must have at some time, known that someone else valued us just for our own self.

Today's readings teach us three important lessons about God's love for us.
  • We can love, because God loved us first -- We were created out of love, and we were created to love. All of scripture tells the big story of God's love for His people, no matter what his people do.
  • Love makes us all equal before God -- In the first lesson, we hear Peter tell Cornelius, a Roman, that God accepts him just a fully as God accepts Peter himself. We are all equally dependent on God.
  • Our response to God's love is to do what He asks -- Jesus tells his disciples that if we love Him, to do what he commands and love one another. We are not to be passive receptacles of God's love and care. Our call is to lavish that same love and care on each other.
What can we expect if we answer this call to share the love that we first received? Loving as God loves is very inconvenient indeed, as it involves putting the needs of someone else ahead of our own wants. It necessarily involves sacrifice, and often the risk of loss and pain. Love is free, but it is not without a tremendous cost. But by giving others the knowledge that they are truly loved, we are making it possible for them to have faith in God. They can only see God if we make him visible in our own lives.

In his very first encyclical Deus Caritas Est (God is Love), Pope Benedict XVI teaches about this:
We have come to believe in God's love: in these words the Christian can express the fundamental decision of his life. Being Christian is not the result of an ethical choice or a lofty idea, but the encounter with an event, a person, which gives life a new horizon and a decisive direction.
God has loved us from the beginning, that is how we know who He is. We must decide whether we will do our part to make that love real for the whole world.

1 comment:

brother John said...

you speak the truth. At least there's one of us.

It's a good thing that god loves us all, everyone, its just to bad that the world today doesn't love him back, I think.

You have a good blog...I like it.