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Embrace the Love of Christ

Updated: May 12, 2023



"Johnny," said a teacher to one-of her young pupils, "do you think you could explain to the class the difference between 'like' and 'love'?" "Well," said Johnny, "I like my parents . . . but I love Milk Duds."


Today is Christian Family Day. It is a time to reflect on the importance of Family. It is also Mother's Day. It is a day when we show our mothers that they are at least as important to us as 'Milk Duds'. Who in this world does more for us than our mom? And who is taken for granted more? It is only right that we devote a day each year in honour of those women who have devoted their lives to their church, to their family, and most importantly to their children. Would that it was more than a day.


Our Gospel text today could easily be about being a good mother, but actually it is

aimed at the whole Christian family. Jesus is looking to the Cross. There He will glorify God by His perfect obedience to God's plan. Now he is calling his disciples to perfect obedience as well. What is this perfect obedience to which H calls them? "A new commandment I give to you", says Jesus, "that you love one another. Just as I loved you, you also should love on another." By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for 0ne another."

There are three points about this passage today -First of all, notice that love is not an option for followers of Jesus. Jesus says, "A new commandment I give to you." Not a suggestion, not a recommendation. A COMMANMENT! Why is it a commandment? It is a commandment because there is a part of every one of us that rebels against the idea of pure, unconditional love. Despite the example that almost all of us received nurturing love, in the form of our mother's love, there is a part of us that says such love is out of place in the world in which we live. There is a part of us that says - "sure, love is great up to a point."


A man described his father this way he said that his father was a kind man - a generous man - a man who would d0 anything for his friends - but whose personality could be exactly the opposite if he didn't like you. This description of the man is very sad and upsetting. It was certainly upsetting for the son because he knew that something wasn't quite right with his father. It was upsetting for the father because he was already into his 70's and he hadn't yet learned what love is. It was also unfortunate for all the people whose lives the father had failed to touch for God, and for all the people who learned from him that, in essence, they really didn't matter, they were unimportant.

I believe that this man is a perfect example of why Jesus commanded us to love one another. Because without the command and the particular nature of the command that we love one another just as Jesus loves us, many of us might end up thinking that it is enough. We might think that it is· good enough to love your friends and your family and to hate, or despise, or simply ignore everyone else. Of course, it is not.


Indeed, we are called to love one another in the way that Christ loves us. We are called to love our brothers and sisters in the same way that mothers love their children. We are called to love without condition, to pray for others, and to care for them regardless of their attitude towards us, regardless of what they may or may not deserve, regardless of whether or not they are related to us by blood or by ties of affection and common interest.


If I were asked today to explain the difference between liking and loving, I would say it lies in attitude. An attitude of Love allows us to accept, with obedience, Christ's Commandment of love for everyone, even to the point of loving the Sinner. When we embrace this Attitude of love, we become transformed and begin to love others in the way that Christ loves us. He has given us the chance to love others without condition or qualification, which brings about this new 'Loving' attitude.


THE SECOND THING that we can take away from today's Gospel is our ability to love is derived from our relationship with Christ. "We love because He first loved us", says the Apostle Saint John. We are able to love because He loves us. Understanding this is critical to our ability to live out the Christian life of love. It is critical to our ability to keep the only commandment that Jesus, in fact, gave to us. Love does not happen in a vacuum. Love is something that is passed from one person to another.


This is one reason why Christian parents and particularly Christian mothers are so important. A child who does not receive love, psychologists tell us, will not be able to give love. There will always be a void there - a terrible void that can never be filled. On the other hand, a child who has received the proper amount of nurturing as an infant and as a toddler will have a Sense of security and trust that wilt last them all their lives.

This is also true with regard to Christ's co1mnmadment to love. If we try to keep Christ's commandment without first nurturing our relationship with Him, we are doomed to fail. We draw our ability to love others in the way that Christ loves us from our connection to God. We get it from the love that Christ is able to pour out upon us when we are in a relationship with Him. Without that connection - without that love - our faith is simply an exercise in noble living. It has no real power to draw us out of ourselves and to centre us in others.

It bears repeating! "A new commandment I give to you," said Jesus, "that you love one another. As l have loved you, so you also should love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." We can keep the commandment to love one another as Christ loves us - only insofar as we open ourselves to Christ and allow His love to enter into our lives and empower us. We open our lives to Christ when we Pray to Him - when we immerse ourselves in His Word and when we gather together with others to Worship him in Fellowship and to work together for Him in this world to bring about Eternal Salvation.


THE THIRD THING l would like to note about today's Gospel is that love is the Christian's primary witness to the world. Our husbands, our wives, our children, and our neighbours will know that we are Christ's followers if we have love for them and for everyone we meet.


We are instructed by Christ to love others just as he has loved us. But we are also even more specifically told by God that we are to love our spouses in the same way that Christ loves us; in the way that He loves the Church and gave Himself up for its sake.


As we heard in the first reading from Ephesians chapter five, we are to take the same standard of love that Christ c0mmanded his Disciples to apply to everyone and we are to apply it to our own family. Many people treat their bosses, their co-workers, their clients or their customers better than they treat their, life partners and children. We really need to listen to the Word of God about loving our family as Christ loves us.


Think of it as a Mother's Day challenge, think of it as a gift we might give to one another, as well as a gift we might give to the world. We need to really think about how Christ Sacrificed His life for us. Look at how He served us, how He bent down and washed the feet of His Disciples, and how He gave His time and energy. Jesus gave His attention to both His Disciples and everyone else. He did all this while enduring without protest, without fighting back against false accusations, slander and even injury unto death.


There are somethings in life you cannot fake. Love is one of them. It has defining characteristics, that being the characteristics of Christ. It produces a fruit that cannot be mistaken, a fruit that keeps on growing and spreading. It changes your family, your life and your world. Living a Christ-like life produces love, joy, peace, patience, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.


So, how do people know that they are Disciples of Jesus? "By this they will know you are my disciples", says Jesus, "if you have love for one another."


LET US PRAY:


Dear Lord God, bring us ever closer to Jesus. Help us to have. a disciplined relationship with him, one that is rich and deep and regular in its nature. Help us to embrace the love of Christ. And grant that in this we may pass on the love that we experience from His hands to all that are around us.


Dear Lord, help us to take your love into our home and family. Grant us Your Holy Love.


We ask this in Jesus' name.


Amen.


For Morning Prayer on the Fifth Sunday after Easter

Published on May 13th, 2001 {Revised on April 1st, 2023}


© Dr. Charles Warner 2023

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