Fifth Sunday Easter 2013 Love One Another

Scripture readings for Sunday's Mass are here.

Various reflections on the readings from St Louis Centre for Liturgy from here,

I especially liked this one from Fr. Ron Rolheiser, which focuses on the meaning of this phrase from today's Gospel : “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.” 
A fine reflection on the readings from Fr. John Predmore S.J. from here.

When Pope Francis officially began his ministry as the 266th Pope, his words at his installation Mass were all about love and so was his first Easter message.

He said "I want to ask a favour, I want to ask you to walk together, and take care of one another. ... And don't forget that this bishop who is far away loves you very much. Pray for me."

He spoke of the need to protect the environment, serve one another with love and not allow "omens of destruction," hatred, envy and pride to "defile our lives."
Francis said the role of the pope is to open his arms and protect all of humanity, but "especially the poorest, the weakest, the least important, those whom Matthew lists in the final judgment on love: the hungry, the thirsty, the stranger, the naked, the sick and those in prison."

"Today amid so much darkness we need to see the light of hope and to be men and women who bring hope to others," he said. "To protect creation, to protect every man and every woman, to look upon them with tenderness and love, is to open up a horizon of hope, it is to let a shaft of light break through the heavy clouds.

The Pope's Easter message was a passionate plea for peace and to turn the hatred of the world into love. Extract : "What does it mean that Jesus is risen? It means that the love of God is stronger than evil and death itself; it means that the love of God can transform our lives and let those desert places in our hearts bloom. The love of God can do this!

This same love for which the Son of God became man and followed the way of humility and self-giving to the very end, down to hell - to the abyss of separation from God - this same merciful love has flooded with light the dead body of Jesus, has transfigured it, has made it pass into eternal life. Jesus did not return to his former life, to earthly life, but entered into the glorious life of God and he entered there with our humanity, opening us to a future of hope.

This is what Easter is: it is the exodus, the passage of human beings from slavery to sin and evil to the freedom of love and goodness. Because God is life, life alone, and we are his glory: the living man.
Dear brothers and sisters, Christ died and rose once for all, and for everyone, but the power of the Resurrection, this passover from slavery to evil to the freedom of goodness, must be accomplished in every age, in our concrete existence, in our everyday lives. How many deserts, even today, do human beings need to cross! 

Above all, the desert within, when we have no love for God or neighbour, when we fail to realize that we are guardians of all that the Creator has given us and continues to give us. God's mercy can make even the driest land become a garden, can restore life to dry bones (cf. Ez 37:1-14).

So this is the invitation which I address to everyone: Let us accept the grace of Christ's Resurrection! Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives too; and let us become agents of this mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish.

And so we ask the risen Jesus, who turns death into life, to change hatred into love, vengeance into forgiveness, war into peace. Yes, Christ is our peace, and through him we implore peace for all the world.

Peace for the Middle East, and particularly between Israelis and Palestinians, who struggle to find the road of agreement, that they may willingly and courageously resume negotiations to end a conflict that has lasted all too long. Peace in Iraq, that every act of violence may end, and above all for dear Syria, for its people torn by conflict and for the many refugees who await help and comfort. How much blood has been shed! And how much suffering must there still be before a political solution to the crisis will be found?

Peace for Africa, still the scene of violent conflicts. In Mali, may unity and stability be restored; in Nigeria, where attacks sadly continue, gravely threatening the lives of many innocent people, and where great numbers of persons, including children, are held hostage by terrorist groups. Peace in the East of the Democratic Republic of Congo, and in the Central African Republic, where many have been forced to leave their homes and continue to live in fear.

Peace in Asia, above all on the Korean peninsula: may disagreements be overcome and a renewed spirit of reconciliation grow.

Peace in the whole world, still divided by greed looking for easy gain, wounded by the selfishness which threatens human life and the family, selfishness that continues in human trafficking, the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century; human trafficking is the most extensive form of slavery in this twenty-first century! Peace to the whole world, torn apart by violence linked to drug trafficking and by the iniquitous exploitation of natural resources! Peace to this our Earth! May the risen Jesus bring comfort to the victims of natural disasters and make us responsible guardians of creation."

An interesting post on how we love one another in the church here.

This week this letter of forgiveness was doing the rounds; a letter from Fr. Mike Rogers to the Boston bomber who survived and another lesson on why we need to forgive from Boston's Cardinal Sean O'Malley, here.

James Alison in discussion here in 2010 about the bright glimmers of hope to be found in the Catholic Church's wrestling with issues around homosexuality. He reflects on his own experience as a gay Catholic, on the givenness of sexual orientation, and on what he calls "the shape of God's affection".

Yet I have to ask myself if many actions in my church do give us a vision of the true shape of God's affection. The character of divine love was shown by what Jesus said.
"You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father, for he makes his sun rise on the bad and the good, and causes rain to fall on the just and the unjust. For if you love those who love you, what recompense will you have? Do not the tax collectors do the same? And if you greet your brothers only, what is unusual about that? Do not the pagans do the same? So be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect. — Matthew 5:43-48

This is a useful article from Fr. Richard Rohr on why we need to end dualistic thinking

I'm finding it hard this year to find the still centre of the Easter Season, while I wait for the vigour of Pentecost to move me on. This image of a muddy sheep, trapped and mired in all the mess of the world and unable to move is one that sometimes fits !

This extract below from Dickens reminds me that  every age has its own worries and tribulations and yet .... and yet, and yet, and yet again, Christ give us His immortal mandate:- to persevere, to love and keep loving; to try and see in others the reflection of the tender light of Christ's heart ; always to challenge my own blindnesscomplacency and frustration.

"It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way." – Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities

 Dag Hammarskjöld in a radio interview with Edward R. Murrow 1953, soon after his appointment as United Nations Secretary General, said :

“But the explanation of how man should live a life of active social service in full harmony with himself as a member of the community of spirit, I found in the writings of those great medieval mystics for whom ‘self-surrender’ had been the way to self-realization, and who in ‘singleness of mind’ and ‘inwardness’ had found strength to say yes to every demand which the needs of their neighbours made them face, and to say yes also to every fate life had in store for them when they followed the call of duty as they understood it.”

Hammarskjold's all too brief life and writings have always inspired me because he honoured the call of his soul and the call of eternity, to try and obey Christ's mandate and commandment.

The hymn A New Commandment I Give Unto You

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.

Taize Veni Sancte Spiritus

Veni Sancte Spiritus, tui amoris ignem accende.

Come, Holy Spirit, and kindle the flame of your love.

Viens, Esprit Saint, allume en moi le feu de ton amour.

Thomas Tallis If Ye Love Me

This is an instrumental version of the hymn If You Love me by Deanna Light and Paul Tate. The only partial lyrics I can find are here. Click on arrow below to listen.

Deep Within (featuring If You Love Me) 

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