Sunday, May 06, 2007

Sunday word, 06 May 2007

5Easter Sunday (06 May 2007) Ac 14. 21-27; Ps 145; Rv 21. 1-5a; Jn 13. 31-33a,34-35
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Undesired Partners

God’s revelation in Jesus is too broad to take in at a glance; too deep to taste quickly. The church invites us to savor it, and it gives us six weeks to enter more deeply the self-giving of Jesus by his death (Lent) and seven weeks to bask in Jesus self-gift as crucified and risen Messiah (Easter).

Lent and Easter are not separate. Jesus is the hinge on which both turn. Because of Jesus they intertwine and intensify each other. To appreciate that recall the gospel of the Second Sunday of Lent. The Transfiguration of Jesus allowed us to consider his passion and death from his glory. Jesus revealed his glory to some of his disciples to encourage them with grace after he had “prepared them [in words] for his approaching death.”/1/

Today’s gospel moves in the reverse: “My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.” No glory in those words. Yet we, who continue celebrating Jesus’ resurrection from death to absolutely new life, can savor his dying for us from the side of glory.

Our celebration of Jesus’ dying and rising translates into practical action, namely, Jesus’ new commandment to us: “As I have [selflessly] loved you, so you also should love one another.” That is how, as Jesus announced, “all will know that you are my disciples.”

Our Christian way of living and loving also attracts others to our Christian way of living and loving. Christian knowledge is practical, effective and engages our world and people. Christian knowing is the knowing two people in relationship enjoy. Friends’ and spouses’ knowledge of each other; the knowledge children and parents have of one another; the knowledge my brother Jesuits and I strive to cultivate about one another: relationships are ways of knowing which grace our hearts not only our minds. Relationship-knowledge graces our complete selves, and it cannot be measured by tests or interviews like other knowledge can.

The proof of relationship-love is twofold: one, it is always God’s gracious initiative: as the comforting revelation of the Book of Revelation put it: [God] will dwell with [the human race] and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. [God] will wipe every tear from their eyes.

The old order included in part that people had to go to God. What Jesus’ dying and rising made new and confirmed in time and space was that God always approaches us. God’s approach, not to mention God dwelling with humans, makes all things new.

The second proof of relationship-love is harder to swallow: suffering. Not all suffering is evil; all suffering involves change. Ask friends, lovers, spouses, families. All of us can testify that change happens, and change often is hard to bear. Change in general and some suffering in particular promote growth.

Jesus did not suffer so that we would not. He repeatedly warned we followers would suffer, too. Suffering and faith aren’t desired partners. Christian life without them is shallow. We heard how Paul and Barnabas put that: [they] exhorted [the disciples] to persevere in the faith, saying, “It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships to enter the kingdom of God.

The glory in suffering is that we do not suffer alone because God joins us. That revelation of our faith make[s] all things new. God’s glory in Jesus is always ours. Easter reminds us to seek our Messiah’s glory in everything.

In your daily 15 minutes this week, become more aware of being in relationship with God. Ask Sts. Paul and Barnabas to present you to risen Jesus. Converse with Jesus about his glory and his suffering and about your share in both. Notice your feelings and emotions. Then, name one way you can more freely and joyfully live Jesus’ new commandment of selfless love. Slowly say the Lord’s Prayer to deepen your resolve to live that way throughout your day.

/1/ Preface, Second Sunday of Lent.

Wiki-images of El Greco's Resurrection and The New Jerusalem both are in the public domain.

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