I give you a new commandment; love one another

Reflection - FifthSunday of Easter 2022

Love one Another. Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

Photo by Jackson David on Unsplash

God called Abraham to be the father of a new people, God’s people. The task seemed impossible, but Abraham responded with a ‘yes’ to follow God’s call and his faith became our faith; we live it today.

The power of God being effective or becoming effective depends on the response of the people whom he calls: Abraham and Sarah, who were childless and of mature age, were asked to believe the fantastic promise of God that they would have a child. Not only that, but Abraham would be the father of a great nation.

The call of Mary by God through the angel Gabriel to be the mother of a child through the Holy Spirit of God is equally outrageous, but her ‘yes’ issued in a new reign of God’s presence in the world up to and including today.

The plan God has does not stop there. In the readings today, we read how the preaching of Paul and Barnabas established the early church. They put it into practice. They pass on the words and life of Jesus to those who will accept it - a new life in God! And the second reading from the book of Revelation (the Apocalypse) describes the conclusion, the summation of God’s plan.

Following John's vision, we read that our future life is to have a new life in a symbolic new Jerusalem, where God will be, and we will be with God. In the Hebrew bible, the name Emmanuel is used to describe God, God is with his people. In this reading all things are fulfilled because God will make a home with us, will be our God, know everyone by name like the Good Shepherd.

And the beautiful phrase, Now I am making the whole of creation new!

In our secular age, with much pessimism and worry about the future because we may not have one because creation will be destroyed by humankind’s abilities to plunder the world, we have hope in a future unknown to us. We are in a situation like Abraham and Mary, who believed in God’s word to create the future, and we are called in the same way.

The gospel does not tell us the explicit plan. We are called to trust in God’s abilities, but after the Resurrection, we know how to do those actions that will assist God’s purpose.

John, who was a witness to Jesus, tells us what to do. He writes that Jesus gives us a new commandment, which upgrades the Ten Commandments: love one another as I have loved you!

The clincher is this, Jesus says by the love we have for one another, everyone will know that we are disciples of the Lord. It means that people will identify the presence of God in the actions of his disciples who are imitating Jesus.

We leave the rest to the power of the Spirit.

Columban Fr Gary Walker currently lives at the Columban house in Sandgate, Brisbane.

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