God is With Us Today When we Love One Another
5th Sunday of Easter
People nowadays ask: “Is God still with us today?” “What is His intervention in our life, society, and the world?” “How present is God now with us?” These are questions brought about by many events happening around us, in our locality, in our country, and in the world. Many times we give up. Many times we lose hope. But there is one Filipino expression that becomes a recourse and a source of hope and strength. We say, “Bahala na!” We can interpret it by saying, “It is up to God now.”
We are on the 5th Sunday of Easter, and as we continue to celebrate the joy of the Lord’s resurrection, we are reminded of how present He is to us even today. That He who has conquered sin and death lives and continues to be with us even until today. Jesus in our Gospel today tells His apostles, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” The Risen Lord Jesus becomes concretely present in us today when we have love for one another. And He even said at the beginning of today’s Gospel, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once.” The Father and the Son so loved one another that they are glorified when we, the followers, love one another. Jesus left this to us not only as an encouragement but a command, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” This commandment from our Lord Jesus is something that we also take upon ourselves even until today. Maybe we can ask ourselves, how did Jesus love since we are asked to love one another as He has loved us?
Reading through the Gospels, Jesus loved by teaching and preaching the truth about the Kingdom of God. He loved by healing those who were sick and infirmed. He loved by freeing those who were possessed by evil spirits. He loved by forgiving the sinners and reminding them not to sin again. Jesus loved by teaching His disciples to forgive seventy-seven times and love their enemies. He loved when He admonished those who were taking advantage of the poor and marginalized. He loved by giving Himself in the form of bread and wine during the Last Supper. Ultimately, Jesus loved by giving Himself totally in His passion, death on the cross, and His resurrection.
As Christians, following how Jesus loved is never easy. Along the way, we encounter problems, difficulties, and trials. There are times when we are tempted to give up and lose hope. The early Christians experienced this and in our First Reading today, we hear Paul and Barnabas’ saying: “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.”
How can we love like our Lord Jesus? The First Reading tells us “they strengthened the spirits of the disciples and exhorted them to persevere in faith.” The community of believers encouraged one another, was present for each other, and prayed for one another that they may persevere in faith. We have just had our national and local elections last Monday, and we have been praying for a peaceful and honest elections. Some of us were able to participate by practicing their right to vote. Our Aspirants also had a chance to volunteer as Voters’ Assistance of the C-CIMPEL. This was our way of taking part in that significant event in our country.
How can we love one another like our Lord Jesus? The Church invites us to do, like our Lord, the corporal and spiritual works of mercy. These are practical ways by which we can glorify the Father and the Son in living the commandment of love. The corporal works of mercy are: to feed the hungry; to give drink to the thirsty; to clothe the naked; to shelter the homeless; to visit the sick; to visit the imprisoned; and, to bury the dead. The spiritual works of mercy are: to instruct the ignorant; to counsel the doubtful; to admonish sinners; to bear wrongs patiently; to forgive offenses willingly; to comfort the afflicted; and, to pray for the living and the dead.
Brothers and sisters, is God still with us today? What is His intervention in our life, society, and the world? Some of us may say, “Bahala na!” It is up to God now, but we as followers of our risen Lord Jesus makes Him present today when we live His commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. How will the world know that we are His? When we have love for one another.” Jesus becomes present here in this Eucharistic celebration, and He gives Himself to us in Holy Communion, so that we too will be His living presence in our families, in our communities, in our country, and in the world today and always. Amen.
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