24 April – Fifth Sunday of Easter
Paul and Barnabas went back through Lystra and Iconium to Antioch. They put fresh heart into the disciples, encouraging them to persevere in the faith. ‘We all have to experience many hardships’ they said ‘before we enter the kingdom of God.’ In each of these churches they appointed elders, and with prayer and fasting they commended them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe.
They passed through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia. Then after proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia and from there sailed for Antioch, where they had originally been commended to the grace of God for the work they had now completed.
On their arrival they assembled the church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans.
I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth; the first heaven and the first earth had disappeared now, and there was no longer any sea. I saw the holy city, and the new Jerusalem, coming down from God out of heaven, as beautiful as a bride all dressed for her husband. Then I heard a loud voice call from the throne, ‘You see this city? Here God lives among men. He will make his home among them; they shall be his people, and he will be their God; his name is God-with-them. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death, and no more mourning or sadness. The world of the past has gone.’
Then the One sitting on the throne spoke: ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new.’
When Judas had gone Jesus said:
‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified,
and in him God has been glorified.
If God has been glorified in him,
God will in turn glorify him in himself,
and will glorify him very soon.
‘My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
I give you a new commandment:
love one another;
just as I have loved you,
you also must love one another.
By this love you have for one another,
everyone will know that you are my disciples.’
I give you another commandment; love one another. Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.
In the book of Exodus, God gave Moses the Ten Commandments. Fast forward to the New Testament and Jesus gives his disciples this new (and final) commandment – Love one another just as I have loved you. This order from our REAL Commander-In-Chief sums up the original Ten Commandments, and is also (to me anyway) the toughest one to follow. To love someone seems easy, especially if it is someone whom we actually like. We willingly dish out respect, honour their wishes, and do almost anything to make and keep them happy. We’re also willing to forgive their mistakes at the slightest hint of an apology. Sometimes, no apology is even necessary.
When I saw this verse, the first thing that popped in my head was my vengefulness. I have real issues with people who have wronged me. Even if it was just once many years ago, that demon known as Vengeance will still come back to torment me. I have tried many times to let go, but trust me when I say it is not easy. Sometimes, I think I have finally let go but if they do just one tiny thing wrong, I will immediately be fuming on the inside.
This is where turning to the Bible has helped me a lot. It has revealed to me how Jesus truly lived. Not just what I learnt in Sunday School. Although those early Sunday morning lessons did help shape some of my Christianity, it cannot compare to what actually reading, and absorbing, the Word has done for my faith. Prayer has also been a source of soul-comfort.
In today’s Gospel, we are called to follow Jesus’ example and Jesus was all about love. He was sent to save the downtrodden, the hurt, the misguided, the marginalised, the hated. In a nutshell, the ones who are the most difficult to love. He performed so many miracles for them much to the chagrin of many of his disciples. Yet, He didn’t care because He knew that God created us to love each other, just as God loves us.
Brothers and sisters, let us emulate the same type of love that Jesus showed everyone more than 2,000 years ago. Let us be willing to treat everyone the same way we treat our own loved ones. Let us spread the same love God shows us to the rest of the world.
(Today’s OXYGEN by Rebecca Grace)
Prayer – Lord, we pray for the courage to give the same kind of love that Your son showed us. There will be many times when our egos get in the way of doing your works of love. When this happens, Lord, we beg for your forgiveness. Enable us, Lord, to show the world the same kind of forgiveness You give us. Amen.
Thanksgiving – Lord, we give you thanks for the gift of the Word. The Word that heals and the Word that guides us as we take each and every step closer to you. Amen.