In the Name of the Love of God

05-16-2021Pastoral ReflectionsRev. Brian F. Manning

It is difficult to believe that time has passed so quickly that this week we are standing in between Ascension Thursday and the Feast of Pentecost. Holy Week, with its glorious conclu­sion of Easter Sunday, the Feast of the Resurrection of our Lord Jesus, is now far back in our rearview mirror. The Feast of the Ascension is past and Pentecost is ahead. The Feast of the As­cension is meant to direct us to understand that we have a responsibility and a mission as follow­ers of Jesus Christ. The Feast of the Ascension tells us that our role and purpose started with the apostles and now have over time been handed on to us, to you and me.

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During the Eastertide we have been reading and listening to the Letters of John, which talk about love. Although the word love has many meanings, today's scripture readings take this word and give it flesh and concrete reality. The practical nature of our first reading keeps us in the tangible and real word; it is the story of the replacement of Judas. It starts with the apostles deciding that there are two men, Joseph, and Matthias, who are worthy to be an apostle by virtue of their reputation and also by being witnesses to the Risen Lord Jesus. The apostles do not use a long confusing discussion model to decide; they simple draw lots. Bear in mind these two candi­dates have both been screened and highly approved. With this action of drawing lots, the apostles are made whole as twelve and now conform to the Jewish tradition of the twelve tribes, an im­portant religious symbol for one and all. With this replacement, the apostles can now journey forward along the Way of Jesus.

Our Gospel addresses the future when our apostles would move out into the world they are to love, but this world is not their end in life. The apostles are to show love and joy and also the truth of Jesus. We find this in the prayer of Jesus as He knows how difficult it will be for them. We must note that the prayer of Jesus is not for the apostles to be without problems and difficulties; rather He prays that they take up the difficult and hard work of loving completely people and the world.

Jesus was not a distant and remote figure, much like a king, emperor, or a president in our modern world. Even when He went away to pray, He brought others with Him and was also available for others if needed. Our second passage this weekend offers the best way to under­stand all this because this particular writing offers us a concrete and real way to test that love we say we have for God: "If we love one another, God remains in us." To put it simply, God dwells in us if we are willing to love others, even if loving them is quite difficult or appears im­possible. We know that loving others will throw us right into the middle of all the messes of our world. This is as Jesus was and did. He was in the midst of everyone and was with them in the good and bad of their lives. When we draw people together in the name of the love of God, we are actually forming a group of believers that then can be called the church. By our love and ac­ceptance, we help others to join us in forming our church in the name of Jesus Christ.