Reflections on the Readings
April 28, 2013 - Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year C
The Precious Fragrance of Easter
"A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another." - Jesus
With the Resurrection fresh in their memory, the early disciples filled Jerusalem with the precious fragrance of Easter. Through them the fragrance of making Christ known spread everywhere. (2 Corinthians 2:14). Rehearsing the events of the betrayal, death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus, the nascent witnesses preached fearlessly and powerfully of Incarnate Love. The claim of death, even death on a cross, was not more powerful than the Life of Love. Up from the grave Christ arose and the early church shared that news with hearts filled with love for Christ and for one another.
The believers of the early church initially gathered in community in Jerusalem. They were, as it is described in Acts, of one heart and soul. Sharing with each other, they had everything in common. An extraordinary sense of unity and belonging prevailed among all who professed faith in Jesus. The apostles guided this community and with great power gave their testimony to the resurrection of the Lord Jesus. And great grace was upon them all.
It is Paul who gave untiring effort to promoting the unity of the faith. The common bond within the body of Christ is love. However, contrary winds to the teaching of Christ blow everywhere. The cunning and crafty ploys of the enemy are all about. Nevertheless, the follower of Christ speaks the truth in love. It is our high calling in Christ Jesus. The body of Christ is joined and knitted together when every part is supplying what is needed. The Church, as St. Paul says, builds itself up in love; all that is good, true, and beautiful, resides in Christ's Body, the Church.
The Church is not a political power. Her strength does not come from connections with human powers. She is not a compassionate NGO seeking the approval of the state. The strength and purpose of the Church resides in the affection Christ lavished upon the whole world. And he did so from the Cross. As Pope Francis reminds us, "When we walk without the cross, when we build without the cross and when we proclaim Christ without the cross, we are not disciples of the Lord. We are worldly."
Daily we are called to remember that Love is a cross; the only cross our Lord asks us to carry.After the Resurrection, the Church picked up her cross of love, and became the face of Jesus and a community created in the love of God. Jesus left us a commandment, a new commandment is what he called it: "Love one another and your neighbor as yourself." He left us the gift of love that must be shared and given to others. Jesus said, "This is how they will know you are my disciples, if you love one another." They will know. Our wife and children will know. The neighbors and coworkers will know.
St. Paul wrote the greatest treatise on love ever written. If we do not have Christ like love we become a clanging cymbal and a noisy gong. That's an indictment against supplanting Christian love with any other way. But there is no other way. Christ is the way of love, the truth of love, the life in whom love has no measure. "Neither do I condemn thee, go and sin no more," and with these words Jesus absolved a lifetime of sin and invited a woman of the streets into his mercy.
There is no greater need in the world than Christian love. Paul says, "Let love be genuine; hate what is evil, hold fast to what is good; love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honor. Never flag in zeal, be aglow with the Spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in your hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints, practice hospitality."(Romans 12:9-13)
We owe our families and parishes the love of God. In his love we recognize the dignity and worth of each other. May it please God that we may have a new baptism of that love that is patient and kind. Let us pray for a new awareness of the new commandment, of love that is not jealous or boastful. God wants to give us that love that is never arrogant or rude. Neither is it ever selfish, resentful, or irritable. May we owe no one anything, except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law of Christ.(Romans 13:8)
Too many walls divide us. Sometimes we barely know each other. It seems we are only lukewarm at best at times and the love of many has grown cold. But today, this day, we hear again the commandment, a new commandment, from him who sits on the Throne. Christ reminds us of the Fire of his Love. It warms the heart and refreshes the soul. My Christ's love burn fervently in us. The Holy Spirit is sent to fan this flame of love so that we will overcome all that is evil in this world God's way. From his Throne of Love and Grace, Jesus says to us again, "Love one another. This is my way. This is your way. It is a new day and behold, I make all things new!"
The Precious Fragrance of Easter is in the air. The Resurrected Christ, our Bridegroom, invites us to his Table. Let us come to this Love Feast today and be made new again! And after we have been nourished with love divine, let us be for our family and friends the sweet aroma of Christ. Amen.
Dennis Hankins is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to his uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. You can email him at firstname.lastname@example.org His website is: www.dennishankins.com