Sixth Sunday Easter 2012

 Scripture Readings for today's Mass are here
and there are various reflections from St Louis Centre for Liturgy here.

Gospel

Jesus said to his disciples:
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.

If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father"s commandments
and remain in his love."

"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.

This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one's life for one's friends.

You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.

I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.

It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.

This I command you: love one another."


REFLECTIONS

Remembrance Communion Song  by Matt Redman 










Perfect Love : Mary's Song

contains some scenes from The Passion






  • The following is an extract from The Land of Love by Anthony de Mello from his Book "Awareness" here.

"Let me end this with a lovely story. There was a man who invented the art of making fire. He took his tools and went to a tribe in the north, where it was very cold, bitterly cold. He taught the people there to make fire. 

The people were very interested. He showed them the uses to which they could put fire—they could cook, could keep themselves warm, etc. They were so grateful that they had learned the art of making fire. But before they could express their gratitude to the man, he disappeared. 

He wasn’t concerned with getting their recognition or gratitude; he was concerned about their well-being. He went to another tribe, where he again began to show them the value of his invention. 

People were interested there, too, a bit too interested for the peace of mind of their priests, who began to notice that this man was drawing crowds and they were losing their popularity.

 So they decided to do away with him. They poisoned him, crucified him, put it any way you like. But they were afraid now that the people might turn against them, so they were very wise, even wily. Do you know what they did? 

They had a portrait of the man made and mounted it on the main altar of the temple. The instruments for making fire were placed in front of the portrait, and the people were taught to revere the portrait and to pay reverence to the instruments of fire, which they dutifully did for centuries. 

The veneration and the worship went on, but there was no fire.






 


Where’s the fire? Where’s the love? Where’s the drug uprooted from your system? Where’s the freedom? This is what spirituality is all about. 

Tragically, we tend to lose sight of this, don’t we? 

This is what Jesus Christ is all about. But we overemphasized the “Lord, Lord,” didn’t we? 


Where’s the fire?






And if worship isn’t leading to the fire, if adoration isn’t leading to love, if the liturgy isn’t leading to a clearer perception of reality, if God isn’t leading to life, of what use is religion except to create more division, more fanaticism, more antagonism?

 It is not from lack of religion in the ordinary sense of the word that the world is suffering, it is from lack of love, lack of awareness.

 And love is generated through awareness and through no other way, no other way. Understand the obstructions you are putting in the way of love, freedom, and happiness and they will drop.

Turn on the light of awareness and the darkness will disappear. Happiness is not something you acquire; love is not something you produce; love is not something that you have; love is something that has you."

I kept repeating this phrase from today's Gospel, this week and also
"You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
and this " It was not you who chose me but I who chose You"

 It is truly awesome how much Jesus continually demonstrates how He loves us and affirms us at every stage of his life and even as he prepares for His own death.

Broken For You Hymn



Community is created by understanding the blocks that we put in the way of community, by understanding the conflicts that arise from our fears and our desires.

At that point community arises. 

We must always beware of making worship just another distraction from the important business of living. 

And living doesn’t mean working in government, or being a big businessman, or performing great acts of charity. 

That isn’t living. Living is to have dropped all the impediments and to live in the present moment with freshness. “The birds of the air . . . they neither toil nor spin”—that is living. I began by saying that people are asleep, dead. 

Dead people running governments, dead people running big business, dead people educating others; come alive! Worship must help this, or else it’s useless."


  • W.H, Auden wrote this poem September 1, 1939 in the immediate aftermath of the opening of World War II, when Germany invaded Poland. 

One of the poem's most memorable lines was edited several times by Auden:


 “We must love one another or die” became “We must love one another and die.”

Auden revised the poem by deleting the stanza containing that line. Finally, he tried to limit reprinting of the poem altogether by refusing almost all requests for its inclusion in anthologies.

 
The poem also attracted criticism from some readers for what they perceived as too easy an explanation for horrible actions, if not an excuse for evil behavior, in lines such as the following: “Those to whom evil is done / Do evil in return.”

The poem regained  popularity after 9/11. Adam Gopnik wrote in The New Yorker (“The Double Man”: September 23, 2002) that the poem is far from being a call to renewed conscience after a period of drift, is actually a call to irony and apolitical retreat, a call not to answer any call.

  • Jeanette Winterson in this post here quotes Richard Holloway :

"The moral challenge is not who should be excluded, but how to include the whole world.



 We must love one another or die, is not rhetoric, it is our fiercest problem, and at the heart of Jesus' own teaching.
 
Jesus, the iconoclast, outlaw, and liberator, without possessions or allegiances, is so uncomfortable for the Church, that while his name is constantly invoked, his radicalism is ignored." 






Well, I agree but would add that Jesus is uncomfortable for all of us as he challenges us individually as well as the whole body of the institutional church. 


It reflects on God's commandment to love, where Auden says that only God could ask human beings to "love their crooked neighbour with all their crooked heart."*

"Auden wrote these words again after World War II - a time when the world had seen the failure of love on an immense scale. Plans to establish heaven on earth had resulted in the opposite.

Many people had become cynical. But In the midst of that cynicism, Auden rediscovered his childhood faith. 

And he recognized that Christian love is not sentimental, but rather as hard as nails: Love your crooked neighbor with all your crooked heart.

I have a tiny smile because I want apply this to Mother's Day.

 Like many of you, I grew up at a time when people were reacting against the sentimentality around motherhood.

 It was popular to hear accounts of terrible mothers. People joined therapy groups that required talk about failures of one's parents, especially the shortcomings of mothers.

As Christians this was no big news. We already knew that original sin deeply affects every person. 


To use Auden's phrase, we all have a "crooked heart." That applies even to mothers. If there is an exception in this congregation, I apologize. But so far I have not ran into a perfect mother.

Now, I was blessed with a darn good mother. She had many wonderful qualities and she made sacrifices about which I only know a tiny part. God gave me and my siblings a very good mother. Still, she was not perfect. She had defects that - if she gave rein to them - would have spelled disaster. She was a flawed human being - and she gave birth to more of the same.

But it is precisely to such people that Jesus says, "Love one another as I have loved you." Jesus provides the one exception to the pattern of human crookedness - and by a singular grace he extended that freedom from sin to his mother.

This does not mean Jesus had an easy time loving us. To rescue someone from the mud (or worse) costs more for a man wearing a clean suit of clothes. For Jesus it cost infinitely more. He alone saw our full misery and arrogance, yet loved us - and continues to do so.

"Love one another as I have loved you."



 

Sometimes people describe the difficulty of loving a certain person. "How can I love someone who is a complete narcissist?" The answer is: start with the one you see each morning in the mirror.

Jesus does not say to love the loveable. That's instinct. My dog loves those who show affection and bring treats. 



That's a nice love. But Jesus calls us to something more: to love others as he love us.

When it comes to the crunch, we can only love that way if Jesus puts his love into our hearts. That's the secret true lovers understand. 

That is the secret that exceptional parents realize. That is the secret that simple Christians hold. Not that we are such selfless people, but that God first loves us - in Jesus."

....................................................................................................................................................................

Frederick Buechner writes, "Your life and my life flow into each other as wave flows into wave, and unless there is peace and joy and freedom for you, there can be no real peace or joy or freedom for me. 

To see reality--not as we expect it to be but as it is--is to see that unless we live for each other and in and through each other, we do not really live very satisfactorily; that there can really be life only where there really is, in just this sense, love.”

 Or as Jesus put it, “love one another just as I have loved you.”


 This is a lovely instrumental version of the hymn 
A New Commandment I Give Unto You  

Lyrics below


A new commandment I give unto you:
That you love one another as I have loved you.
That you love one another as I have loved you.
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples
If you have love one for another.
By this shall all men know that you are My disciples
If you have love one for another.
Lyrics (John 13:34-35)

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