2nd Sunday of Easter Year B
How do I love God more perfectly?
We are believers in God. Yet the way we believe is imperfect. We say we love God. Yet our love for Him is also imperfect. In the Second Reading this week, St John, Jesus’ beloved disciples, wrote, “Everyone who believes that Jesus is the Christ has been born of God, and everyone who loves the parent loves the child. By this we know that we love the children of God” (verse 1-2). Yes, my brothers and sisters, to love God is to love all children of God, all our brothers and sisters. Earlier St John wrote, “Those who say, ‘I love God,’ and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen.” (1 Jn 4:20). I might say, “But I do love my brothers and sisters!” In truth, when I say that, I often mean I love those who love me, not those who hate me. That is why my love for God is imperfect. As Jesus taught us, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners love those who love them. If you do good to those who do good to you, what credit is that to you? For even sinners do the same. If you lend to those from whom you hope to receive, what credit is that to you? Even sinners lend to sinners, to receive as much again. But love your enemies, do good, and lend, expecting nothing in return. Your reward will be great, and you will be children of the Most High; for he is kind to the ungrateful and the wicked. Be merciful, just as your Father is merciful.” (Lk 6:32-36)
This weekend, the Church celebrates Divine Mercy Sunday. Dear brothers and sisters, to help us contemplate God’s mercy, let us gaze our eyes on the crucifix. On the cross, while agonising on the pains his tormentors inflicted upon Him, Jesus prayed for his enemies: “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 23:34) This is Divine Mercy. As I receive love and mercy from Jesus, I am called to do the same to my enemies. Otherwise, our love for God remains imperfect. “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” (Mt 5:48)
In the Second Reading, St John proclaimed Jesus to be “the one who came by water and blood”, “not with the water only but with the water and the blood” (verse 6). At the cross, the same St John noted, “one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once blood and water came out”. My dear friends, when we are baptised into the faith, we are not just baptised into water alone, we are also baptised into His blood. St John continues in the Second Reading, “And the Spirit is the one that testifies, for the Spirit is the truth.” (verse 6) That is why in the Catholic faith, the initiation into the faith does not just consist of water baptism, but also the partaking of the Eucharist (Jesus’ Body and Blood), and the outpouring of Holy Spirit through Confirmation. This three-fold initiation, founded on Biblical teachings, is a reminder to us to perfect ourselves in God’s love. So, what does it mean to be baptised into His blood? It means that I need to love like Him by dying to myself.
My dear brothers and sisters. I invite you to recall in your mind those who have hurt you gravely; those who have betrayed you. What emotions do that stir up within you? Is it hatefulness? Is it vengefulness? If so, just as those who hurt me has failed me, I too have failed Jesus – I have failed to love like Him. For as long as I am not able to let go, I am imprisoning my betrayer; not only my betrayer, I am also imprisoning myself. I have consigned myself to carrying this baggage in my life and I cannot break free. I feel miserable and my misery permeate to those around me – not just with those who hurt me, but also those I love. But it does not have to be like that. By His Divine Mercy, Jesus wants to free me. I can be free, if we let His mercy touch my heart. All it takes for me to pass that mercy on my betrayer and say, “Father, forgive them; for they do not know what they are doing.” (Lk 23:34) If we let Him, the love and forgiveness of Jesus will set us free, heal us, and make us whole again.
The First Reading paints the picture of an early Christian faith community. “There was not a needy person among them, for as many as owned lands or houses sold them and brought the proceeds of what was sold. They laid it at the apostles’ feet, and it was distributed to each as any had need.” (verse 34-35) We know that the size of this early Christian community is not small, probably numbered in the thousands (Acts 2:41, Act 4:4). Were there those in that early Christian community who were enemies before? Very likely. Among those who sold their possessions and shared the proceeds with the community, were there former enemies who benefited? Very likely. How were the early Christians able to do that? It is because Christ’s love was in them. When I set my enemies free, a tremendous sense of liberation will flood my heart, as “it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me”. May the Divine Mercy of God flood your heart. Shalom, my dear brothers and sisters.