Homily 6th Sunday of Easter 5th May 2024

Homily 6th Sunday of Easter 5th May 2024

The first fruit of the paschal mystery is that the reality of God is described to God’s people not in terms of some eternal power that forces itself on a person, but rather in terms of an inner state, something that happens inside a believer.

The words that are used by St John to speak of all of this are love and joy; it is St John who tells us what love is. According to the second reading: “Love consists in this, in that God has loved us, and sent his son as an offering for us.” So, most simply put, love is what Christ has done for us.

That is what we must do for one another, in every situation in which we find ourselves.

The first thing that Christ did or us was to give himself. He did so freely, with full awareness of all the implications of the choice. And so must we if our relationship with others is genuinely loving, we walk into it with our eyes wide open.

Just as Christ did for us, love must mean accepting a certain amount of responsibility for the welfare of others. Recognising that to a certain extent what is good for the other I must consider as good for me as well.

I say, ‘to a certain extent’ because real lovers never try to substitute their own virtue or ability for that of the other. Rather, a true lover assists others in engineering their own growth, exercising their own virtue and ability; a true lover demands of others that they become the best they can be.

Once that demand is made, a true lover steps back and allows it to happen. For sure, it is at this point that the quality of love is most sorely tested, the point at which control is freely surrendered: willingness to let the circumstances of our lives strip us of power, of control.

Finally, in his Gospel, St John gives us one of the surest signposts to use in judging whether or not all of this is happening. The word he uses is Joy. In Christ’s words, “I have done all this, and you must do it too, so that your joy may be complete.” That is the mark of a lover, the mark of a Christian lover: joy.

Joy means a basic sense of rightness about one’s life. To go beyond the experience of the moment and say, “Even though it may not feel like it from time to time, things are going about as they should. Even if I have to grapple from time to time with problems, they are real problems, and working to find a solution to them will mean real growth.”

So, God has indeed loved us and sent us to love one another. In the face of that the only possible response is joy.