Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 05, 2024 – 10:30 AM
Saint Cecilia Catholic Community
Deacon Sharon Kay Talley
Acts 10:25-26;34-35;44-48 | Psalm 98:1-4
I John 4:7-10 | John 15:9-17

 +In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, AMEN.

Since our first reading today is from Acts, I thought I’d share this story with you:

An elderly woman had just returned to her home from an evening of religious service when she was startled by an intruder.  As she caught the man robbing her home of its valuables, she yelled, “Stop: Acts 2:38 (which is turn from your sin).  The burglar stopped dead in his tracks.  The woman calmly called the police and explained what she had done.  As the officer cuffed the man to take him in, he asked the burglar, “Why did you just stand there?  All she did was yell a scripture to you.”  “Scripture?”  replied the burglar, “She said she had an AXE and two 38’s!”

Our readings today invite us to reflect on the profound love of God and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in our lives.

In our first reading from Acts, we have three powerful messages from several verses which describe significant events in early Christianity:

First, when Peter tells Cornelius to “Stand up! I too am a man.”  it underscores the principle that we as Christians, should not worship other humans, but should reserve worship for God alone.

Second, when Peter states, “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to Him.”  By this statement, Peter is emphasizing a profound truth:  God’s acceptance is not limited to a particular ethnicity or group of people.  Instead, anyone from any nation who reveres God and lives according to righteousness is welcomed by Him.

Third, while Peter was saying all these things, the Holy Spirit fell on all who heard the word.  And the believers from among the Jewish people present were amazed because the gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on everyone, including the Gentiles.  Then, Peter proclaimed that they all be baptized in the name of Jesus.  This event signifies a pivotal moment in the early church demonstrating that the message of Jesus is for all people, regardless of their cultural or ethnic background.

These verses from Acts highlight the universality of the Christian message, the importance of humility in worship, and the transformative power of the Holy Spirit in breaking down barriers between different groups of people.

In today’s Gospel from John, Jesus speaks to His disciples about the importance of love.  He commands them to love one another as He has loved them, recognizing that love is the true hallmark of discipleship.  Jesus imparts to His disciples a timeless commandment, one that encapsulates the essence of all His teachings and the very core of Christian life: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

So, what does it mean to love as Jesus loves? Well, it is a love that transcends mere sentiment or emotion, it is a love that is sacrificial, selfless, and unconditional.  It is a love that seeks the good of the other above all else.  Jesus demonstrated this love throughout all His earthly ministry.  He did so through His compassion for the marginalized, by His forgiveness of sinners, and ultimately in His sacrificial death on the

cross for the redemption of humanity.

Let me ask you this question…are you a disciple of Jesus?

As disciples, we are called to emulate His example of love in our daily lives.  We are called to love not only those who are easy to love, but also those who challenge us, those who hurt us, and even those who may seem unlovable.  True discipleship requires us to love without reservation, without discrimination, and without expecting anything in return.

Furthermore, Jesus reminds us that His commandment to love is not merely an option, but a mandate.  He says, “This is my commandment: love one another as I have loved you.”  It is a commandment that is inseparable from our identity as followers of Jesus.  To love one another is not just a suggestion, it is the very essence of what it means to be a Christian.

In a world that often seems divided by hatred, prejudice, and strife, the call to love one another stands as a radical counter-cultural message.  It challenges us to break down the barriers that separate us from one another—whether they be barriers of race, ethnicity, nationality, or ideology, and to recognize the inherent dignity and worth of every human person, as beloved children of God.

Loving one another is not always easy.  It requires humility, patience, and forgiveness.  It requires us to step outside of our comfort zones and to extend ourselves in generosity and kindness.  It requires us to see the face of Jesus in every person we encounter, especially in those who are most in need of our love and compassion.

As we continue on our journey through this Easter season, may we be inspired by the example of Christ’s love and may we strive to love one another with the same selflessness and devotion.  Let us pray for the grace to live out this commandment every day, knowing that in loving one another, we bear witness to the transformative power of the Gospel and become true disciples of the One who loved us first. Amen.