6th Sunday of Easter B - Homily 2

Homily 2 - 2009

When all is said and done, Jesus' message is essentially quite uncomplicated. It all starts with God: God loves Jesus. And God loves Jesus because that is what God is like: God loves, God is love.

Now, love is not inert. Love is power. Love empowers. Love energises the one loved. Love is creative (the only truly creative power there is). Love gives life.

The God who is love, who loves Jesus, transforms Jesus into love and empowers Jesus, in his turn, to love others. As today's Gospel put it: As the Father loved me, so I have loved you. So, it all starts with God.

Jesus then went on to say to us: Remain in my love ... and then he said it again.

Just as he remains in his Father's love - as he accepts it, believes it, trusts it, lets himself be saturated in it, and is empowered and energised by it, so, in similar vein, he invites us to believe his love, to accept it, to trust it, to sun-bake in it - until we become saturated in it, and transformed by it, and become ourselves people who love.

We come to see that loving defines who we truly are. We are truly ourselves only when we choose to love; we are truly human only when we choose to love.

But because we are slow learners, (or, rather, because we have been messed up by being born into, and growing up in, the kind of world we live in, he makes it clear that that is what we are about by telling us that, if we want to live life to the full, we need to love. That is simply non-negotiable. And to help us to understand that it is non-negotiable, he said that that is his commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.

But then he says it's not commandment (at least not what we usually understand as commandment - a kind of order imposed on us, from outside, by a superior officer). He insists that we are not servants, and are not to see ourselves as servants - we are not to do something simply because someone else orders us.

He says we're friends of his - friends whom he trusts so much that he has shared with us what is most precious to him: He has told us everything he has learnt form his Father, that is, the non-negotiability of loving.

He wants us to love so that we can be truly human, so that we can come alive. In fact, he said that his reason for sharing all this with us is so that his joy maybe in us and our joy be complete. But, because love has to be free, or it's not love, then, for us to accept what he calls his commandment as a servant would, would be to miss the whole point.

Just in case it all sounds a bit remote, a bit like an assembly-line process, he assures us that each of us is unique and special: We did not choose him, no, he chose us ... It's all a bit mind-blowing!