Seventh Sunday of Easter
Second Reading: 1 John 4: 11-16
As if the point has not been made, the Reading today again emphasises the pre-eminence of love in the life of the Christian.
The love we have for God and for one another is final proof that we live in God and that God lives in us. Being a Christian does not require the passing of exams - knowing huge amounts of theology - or spending hours in deep prayer - or speaking knowledgeably about spiritual matters - or doing impressive works of charity. Yes, each of those things can be important - and can help a person to grow in knowledge and love of God. Great acts of charity might suggest that a person has a lot of love in them - but are not necessarily proof of it.
The bottom line is do we love?
When Jean Vanier set up the L’Arche communities, he sought to establish communities where disabled and able-bodied people lived and loved alongside each other. Many of those who have spent time “working” in such communities have found that those who seem most severely disabled and able to do least are the most able when it comes to loving. Those who work with disabled or sick people often comment that they receive more - as do people who work alongside others who are poor or otherwise marginalised.
Jesus had a special fondness for those on the fringes of society. His love was not sentimental or condescending - but based on his deep sense of their own great potential for loving. He was able to discern that some the world called sinners were simply people who “loved not wisely but too well”.
Like John, we are people who have known God’s love towards us - and we too are invited to put our faith in that love. It is not always easy - and it takes a whole lifetime to bring to perfection.
The glimpses of love that we give and receive serve to encourage us that there is a greater love - and that this love is God.
What does this mean for me?