Love Without Condition

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Love Without Condition

May 5, 2024 | N W | Discipleship, Family, Father Nixon, Generosity, Holy Spirit, Love, Service

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 5, 2024 — Year B
Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 / Ps 98 / 1 Jn 4:7-10 / Jn 15:9-17
by Rev. Nixon Negparanon, Pastor

There is a story told about a devastating famine in Russia that had brought great misery.  A beggar had become weak and emaciated and almost starved to death.  He approached the novelist Leo Tolstoy and asked him for assistance.

Tolstoy searched his pockets for money but discovered that he didn’t even have as much as a single coin.  However, he took the beggar’s worn hand between his own and said, “Don’t be angry with me, my brother.  I have nothing with me.”

The thin, lined face of the beggar lit up as if from some inner light.  The beggar whispered in reply, “But sir, you called me ‘brother.’  That was the greatest gift that you could give me.”

Jesus said in our gospel today, “This is my commandment:  Love one another as I have loved you.”

As we gather on this Sixth Sunday of Easter, the readings invite us into a deeper understanding of love, unity, and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  The Easter season is drawing to a close, yet the spirit of renewal and hope remains vibrant within us.  This Sunday offers a moment for reflection on the journey we’ve undertaken since Easter Sunday and the profound teachings shared during this sacred time.

In the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we witness the radical inclusivity of God’s love, as Peter proclaims to Cornelius and his household that God shows no partiality.  This passage challenges us to expand our understanding of community and embrace the diversity of God’s creation.  It reminds us that the love of God knows no boundaries, and extends to all people regardless of race, ethnicity, or background.

The passage from the First Letter of John reinforces this message of love, emphasizing that love is not merely a human emotion, but the very essence of God’s being.  As beloved children of God, we are called to love one another for love is from God, and whoever loves has been born of God and knows God.  This love is not based on merit or worthiness but is freely given to all who open their hearts to receive it.

In the Gospel of John, Jesus speaks to His disciples about the profound nature of love, and the call to abide in His love.  He reminds them that they are not merely servants but friends, chosen and appointed to bear fruit that will last.  This passage challenges us to deepen our relationship with Christ and to live lives rooted in love, compassion, and service to others.

The gospel also brings us into the intimate discourse between Jesus and His disciples, a conversation rich with profound meaning and enduring relevance.  In these verses, Jesus speaks of love, friendship, and the essence of discipleship.

Jesus begins by commanding His disciples to abide in His love, just as He abides in the love of the Father.  This call to abide in love is not passive; it requires an active commitment to remain connected to the source of all love, which is God.  Through this connection, we find our strength, our purpose, and our identity as followers of Christ.

The depth of Jesus’ love for us is revealed in His willingness to lay down His life for our sins, a sacrifice that exemplifies the greatest expression of love.  In this act of selflessness, we see the true nature of love – love that is sacrificial, unconditional, and boundless.

As Jesus continues, He invites His disciples into a deeper relationship with Him, calling them friends, rather than servants.  This shift in language underscores the intimacy of their connection and the trust that exists between them.  It is a relationship built, not on fear or obligation, but on mutual love and respect.

Central to Jesus’ message is the commandment to love one another as He has loved us.  This commandment is not merely a suggestion or a request; it is a mandate that lies at the heart of Christian discipleship.  To love as Jesus loves is to embody the very essence of His teachings, to extend compassion, forgiveness, and grace to all those we encounter.

There was a story about two little boys who were brothers and went to school for enrollment.  The teacher asked these little brothers about their age and birthdays, so she could place them in the registration form.

The older of the two replied, “We’re both seven.  My birthday is April 8 and my brother’s birthday is April 20.”  The teacher replied, “But that’s not possible, boys.”

The quieter brother spoke up.  “No, it’s true.  One of us is adopted.”

“Oh!” said the teacher, “Which one is adopted?”

The two brothers looked at each other and smiled.  The older brother said, “We asked Dad that same question a while ago, but he just looked at us and said he loved us both equally and he couldn’t remember anymore which one of us is adopted.”  What a wonderful analogy of God’s love for us.  It is a love without condition; it does not discriminate.

Finally, Jesus reminds His disciples that they did not choose Him, but He chose them, and appointed them to go and bear fruit that will last.  This commissioning is both a privilege and a responsibility, calling us to live lives that reflect the love and grace we have received.

As we reflect on these words of Jesus, may we be inspired to abide in His love, to embrace our identity as His friends and disciples, and bear fruit that will bring glory to God.

May we strive to love one another with the same selfless love that Jesus has shown us, and may our lives be a testament to the transformative power of God’s love at work in the world.

May Jesus Christ be praised.

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