Sunday Gospel Reflection
May 19th – John 13:31-35
In the Son of Man, God has been glorified
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.’
Take a moment & reflect
– with Monsignor Robert Draper
We have a wonderful juxtaposition of readings for today’s liturgy. We start with the reading from the Acts which will catch out a few as they try and get their tongues around these exotic sounding place names. But this part of the Book of Acts is essentially very practical. It is about real places – that is why Luke names them so conscientiously – real places where real communities live, and Paul and Barnabus are going around doing something very practical, setting up church structures and encouraging the people there. Luke does give us an idealized picture of the early church – as in the reading two weeks ago – but he is also concerned that we see the reality of the situation. These are actual communities where the gospel has to be lived, and that requires organisation and practical action. And that is the way it has to be – Christians live in a complex world made of up human beings with their foibles and charisms and in order to live as a community, and in the wider community, there is the requirement of some order. But, of course, that is not enough, for the church is not simply a human society.
The book of Revelation offers us a very different picture, but one which is equally important. We are not just a people who live in place and time, with real issues and structures and decisions to be made here and now. We are also the heavenly Jerusalem as beautiful as a bride come to the wedding feast of the lamb. And that is why we need the poetic language and exotic imagery of the book of Revelation – in case we start to think that it depends on the institutional church and on us. The heavenly Jerusalem comes down from God, because she is the gift from God, the vision and hope of all God’s people, and such a vision and yearning can only be expressed in visionary language – which is why we do need to take the Book of Revelation seriously.
Linking both readings and emphasizing a central truth of the Christian faith are Jesus’ words which insists that it is his love that makes all this possible and that inasmuch as we love as he loves – and that is what it is to keep his commandments – then the reality of Jesus’ love can become present. For that love is made present in a practical way in the here and now, in this world, with these people, and at the same inspired by – and ultimately realised in – the vision of the bride of the Lamb.
- What does the phrase ‘love one another’ mean to you?
- What do you think Jesus meant by ‘just as I have loved you’?
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