6th Sunday of Easter, Year C
Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8
Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23
May 1, 2016
“Whoever loves me will keep my word.”
These are among the words Jesus gives to his disciples as He prepares them for his Passion. From our human experience, these might be difficult words to accept. When another human being begins a sentence with “if you love me,” we might immediately wonder what do they really want. We anticipate they are going to ask us for something they want and that it will probably be something we don’t want to do.
With Jesus, it’s a little different. Jesus does not tell us to keep His Word out of his own self-interest. Jesus is motivated in the words He gives us by what is good for us.
Jesus wants us to love him and to love him means to trust him. That means trusting in His Word.
Where do we go to find Jesus’ words today? Of course, the Bible is the place where we find Jesus’ words. Most explicitly we find Jesus’ own words in the gospels but that does not mean it is the only part of the Bible that is important. As Catholics we believe that while the Bible is written down by human authors, the Bible in its entirety is the inspired Word of God.
That means we should not read just the gospels. We need to read the whole New Testament. We also need to read the Old Testament. Jesus does not supersede the Old Testament. In fact, if we look at our reading from Revelation today, we hear how in Heaven both the Twelve Tribes of Israel as well as the Twelve Apostles hold a special place in Heaven. We need to read both the Old and New Testaments.
How we do know how to interpret God’s Word today? It can be a challenge. In the early Church, shortly after Jesus’ Resurrection, they faced challenges sorting this out. The question of what was necessary to be saved brought “no little dissension and debate.”
There were some who argued that the Gentiles first need to be circumcised before they could become Christians and they had to follow all the food laws. Others said no. Realizing how this would be a fundamental shift in their practice, they did not simply leave it for each individual or group to decide for themselves. They came together as the Apostles to discern what God wanted. It was not a political debate settled by a majority vote. Each person offered their own perspective but the goal was to discern God’s Will. They took into consideration what we can read in the Bible like the story (Acts 10 & 11) of the vision Peter had to go to the house of Cornelius, a Gentile, to baptize his family. Regarding the food laws, they reflected on Jesus’ own words that we are not made unclean by what goes into our bodies but by what we say and do.
In addition to God’s Word, they counted on the Holy Spirit to guide them just as we must. The Holy Spirit, as we profess in the Creed, is sent by the Father and Jesus. They work together in perfect unity. This unity should be our goal.
Being in a loving relationship with Jesus does not mean we always get our way. Our way is not always the best way. It means trusting in Jesus as the way and the truth and the life.
If only trusting Jesus would be as simple as it might sound. Today there are many voices in the world who think that they know what is right and wrong. They often use psychology and/or popular opinion to determine what is right and wrong. Others say there is no universal right and wrong. They think it is fine for everyone to do whatever they want as long as no one is hurt by it. (Unfortunately, their concept of “hurt by it” is narrow and does not include moral, emotion, or spiritual harm).
None of these determine what is right and wrong. Right and wrong is determined by God. The best path for us to follow is determined not by our own wants but by God’s Wisdom.
None of what I have said should be interpreted to mean all psychology and modern thought is completely bad. For instance, psychology can be a valuable tool to help people understand their behavior and help us to respond in a way to help the people with their struggles but it is Jesus who determines the right and the wrong. We need to embrace Jesus’ truth. We should not judge others but we are called to trust in Jesus and share His Word.
It isn’t always easy. Jesus knew his disciples would struggle to accept the Crucifixion but He knew it must be as the Father had planned.
Jesus knew He would be leaving and the disciples would be sad by this. He worked to prepare them for this. He wanted them to understand how his departure was a good thing when He said, “If you loved me, you would rejoice that I am going to the Father.”
Jesus loved the Father and had complete trust in the Father. May we have the grace we need to always trust in the Father’s Will.