Monday, May 13, 2019

May 19, 2019 A New Commandment

5th Sunday of Easter C

Reading I: 
Acts 14:21-27

Psalm:  145

Reading II: 
Revelation 21:1-5a

John 13:31-33a,

When Jesus tells us in the Gospel that he is giving us a “New Commandment” to love God, our neighbors and ourselves, we wonder what he means. After all, our Jewish ancestors in the faith already learned the importance of loving God in the Book of Deuteronomy when they read that they should “love Yahweh their God with all their heart, with all their soul, with all their strength.” (Deut 6:4-5).

From the Book of Leviticus, they learned that they are to love their neighbors as themselves (Lev 19:18). As a result, we observe that many of our Jewish brothers and sisters work in the helping professions like the many areas of the medical field and in the legal fields, etc.

Then, what is Jesus adding to make this a New Commandment?  He wants
us to love as he has loved us (John 13:34). At the Last Supper, Jesus shows by example what he means by kneeling before the disciples and washing their feet.

Since most went barefoot or wore open sandals, their feet were usually dirty and smelly, this was a welcomed service. Therefore, Jesus wants us to serve the needs of one another, even the most menial tasks.

Jesus also teaches the disciples: “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” (John 15:13).  Jesus later willingly gives up his life for all of us. Many of His followers also give up their lives because they refuse to deny that they are Christians or they attempt to spread the “Good News.”

Jesus’ love is completely inclusive because he sees each of us as precious. He loves even his enemies and forgives those who persecute him. His love extends to people of all races, nationalities, religions, sexual preferences, etc. That is what he expects of his followers also.

Jesus shows us an example of bringing justice when he came to the rescue of the woman being stoned for adultery. Where was the man who partnered with her? Who in the crowd was without sin? Jesus stands up for the woman so that those who are about to stone her, walk away. He just asks her to sin no more.

The whole aspect of justice is an important part of Jesus’ way of loving. The goods of this world are meant to be shared so that all have what they need. This was practiced well by the early Christian Communities. This is a great need today when we see some living in luxury while others are homeless and starving.
If we are to love as Jesus loved, our love of neighbor needs to include working toward justice for all.

Finally, to love like Jesus involves sacrifice. It may mean giving up our lives for another. However, it may mean simply putting aside one’s plans to meet the need of another. It may mean to accept the inconveniences that are required to help another. It may mean going the extra mile when one is already exhausted.

The New Commandment really means the Total Gift of Self.

Lamb of God, have mercy on us
Lamb of God, have mercy on us.
Lamb of God, grant us peace!

  Reflection Question:   Ask the Lord, “What aspect of the New Commandment that He would like you to focus on at this time?”

Spanish Translation of Reflection Above...
La Resurrección de Lázaro

Cuando Jesús nos dice en el Evangelio que nos está dando un “Nuevo Mandamiento” para amar a Dios, a nuestros vecinos y a nosotros mismos, nos preguntamos qué quiere decir. Después de todo, nuestros antepasados judíos en la fe ya aprendieron la importancia de amar a Dios en el Libro de Deuteronomio cuando leen eso deberían “ama a Jehová su Dios con todo su corazón, con toda su alma, con toda su fuerza.” (Deut 6:4­5).

Del Libro de Levítico, aprendieron que deben amar a sus vecinos como a sí mismos (Lev 19:18). Como resultado, observamos que muchos de nuestros hermanos y hermanas judíos trabajan en profesiones de ayuda, como las muchas áreas del campo médico y en los campos legales, etc.

Entonces, ¿qué está agregando Jesús para hacer de este un Nuevo Mandamiento?  Quiere que amemos como nos ha amado (Juan 13:34). En la última cena, Jesús muestra con el ejemplo lo que quiere decir al arrodillarse ante los discípulos y lavarse los pies.

Como la mayoría andaba descalzo o usaba sandalias abiertas, sus pies usualmente estaban sucios y olían mal, este era un servicio bien recibido. Por lo tanto, Jesús quiere que sirvamos las necesidades de los demás, incluso las tareas más serviles.

Jesús también enseña a los discípulos: “Un hombre no puede tener más amor que dar su vida por sus amigos”. (Juan 15:13). Jesús más tarde renuncia voluntariamente a su vida por todos nosotros. Muchos de sus seguidores también renuncian a sus vidas porque se niegan a negar que son cristianos o intentan difundir la “Buena Nueva”.

El amor de Jesús es completamente inclusivo porque nos ve a cada uno de nosotros como algo precioso. Él ama incluso a sus enemigos y perdona a los que lo persiguen. Su amor se extiende a personas de todas las razas, nacionalidades, religiones, preferencias sexuales, etc. Eso es lo que él espera de sus seguidores también.

Jesús nos muestra un ejemplo de cómo llevar la justicia cuando rescató a la mujer que estaba siendo apedreada por adulterio. ¿Dónde estaba el hombre que se asoció con ella? ¿Quién en la multitud estaba sin pecado? Jesús defiende a la mujer para que aquellos que están a punto de apedrearla, se vayan. Él solo le pide a ella que no vuelva a pecar.

Todo el aspecto de la justicia es una parte importante de la manera de amar de Jesús. Los bienes de este mundo deben compartirse para que todos tengan lo que necesitan. Esto fue practicado bien por las primeras comunidades cristianas. Esta es una gran necesidad hoy en día, cuando vemos que algunos viven en el lujo mientras otros no tienen hogar y se mueren de hambre. Si debemos amar como Jesús amó, nuestro amor al prójimo debe incluir trabajar por la justicia para todos.

Finalmente, amar como Jesús implica sacrificio. Puede significar renunciar a nuestras vidas por otra. Sin embargo, puede significar simplemente dejar de lado los planes de uno para satisfacer la necesidad de otro. Puede significar aceptar los inconvenientes que se requieren para ayudar a otro. Puede significar hacer un esfuerzo adicional cuando uno ya está agotado.

El Nuevo Mandamiento realmente significa el Don Total del Ser.

Cordero de Dios, ten piedad de nosotros.
Cordero de Dios, ten piedad de nosotros.
Cordero de Dios, danos la paz!

  Pregunta de Reflexión:    Pregúntele al Señor: “¿En qué aspecto del Nuevo Mandamiento en el que Él desea que se concentre en este momento?”


Stephanie Morris, Ph.D. Historian, Certified Archivist, Emerita

When the Drexel family visited the Alps in 1886, Kate observed that man’s life was like the passing of a cloud over the unchanging mountains. “I felt as if standing at the Day of Judgement.  How have you passed you life?”  Reading St. Francis Xavier, Kate noted the importance of knowing yourself. “Self-knowledge is the nurse of confidence in God.” Confidence in God should reassure us that we can speak with Him honestly, as to a loving Father.  We can talk with the Lord, telling Him our moments of weakness.  Recognizing these moments is a way to identify the areas in which we do not completely follow the New Commandment.  These would be the aspects of the New Commandment on which the Lord would like us to focus.

Pat Chiaffa, ASBS

The frontpage story of our local newspaper told of tension erupting between white residents and members of the Chinese community at a Civic Association meeting held in my neighborhood. Startled, I continued to read that Chinese residents feel they are treated with discrimination and disrespect. I was trembling. How can this be? That is not representative of the dynamics I witness in the neighborhood. The Chinese people who attend my church are welcomed and respected by the established white parishioners. I brooded over the newspaper article and continued to ask myself questions about the members of our growing Chinese population, which has tripled over the last several years. 

The issue to be discussed at the public meeting was whether a newly built restaurant/bar should be permitted to build a deck on the roof. The concerns should have been neutral and universal: parking, noise, congestion and disorderly behavior of the patrons. The paper reported that it was a “contentious gathering from the outset, and a police officer was stationed at the entrance to the gym throughout the proceedings.” In my opinion, if we set the stage for discord, it will certainly play out as such. Perhaps local clergy members and community outreach representatives could have greeted attendees at the door. A more peaceful presence might have established a more hospitable energy where issues could be considered for the common good. Nothing was resolved at that meeting, but deeper hostility was certainly planted.

The invitation to focus on one aspect of the New Commandment is very opportune for me. I intend to pray for, and work towards, promoting inclusivity amongst the various cultures that comprise my community, with special emphasis on the Chinese members. Your comment that “Jesus’ love is completely inclusive because he sees each of us as precious,” will be my canticle, with the addition of, “and that is why we are to love one another.” 
It grieves me that our neighborhood Asian newcomers feel unwelcomed and disrespected. Ours is a community of multiple faiths and cultures, yet I consider us to be tolerant. However, I see that we need to move beyond mere tolerance to acceptance and valuing diversity. It seems we have lost the awareness that we are all one in God’s eyes; created by Love for love. 

Since reading that article, I see my neighborhood through a more attentive lens. I see beauty, abundance and freedom for which we should be so grateful. If we, as a community, don’t transform these toxic thoughts of fear and separation, we stand to lose these gifts to acts of violence. Yet, there is boundless potential to be born of our multi-cultural neighborhood. Hopefully, we will grow to acknowledge our commonalities and celebrate our unique and glorious talents, gifts, garb, music, food, and so much more.
Please join me in praying for healing for my local community and all communities going through the growing pains of unprecedented demographic changes. There will always be tensions to overcome However, the more we reawaken to our spiritual connection and acknowledge the dignity of each person, the more we will reap the highest good for ourselves and our brothers and sisters.

To end on a more uplifting note, I received a ‘thought for the day’ from Life Coach, Susan Gregg who draws a parallel between pineapples and a happy life. She cites that the pineapple is a “very odd fruit - very spiny on the outside, but if they are ripe they are very sweet and juicy on the inside. Not at all what you'd expect looking at one.

Kind of like life. If we react to what we think we see, we miss out on all the good stuff on the inside. When we explore just a little bit deeper we can begin to see all the love and the similarities just below the surface.”

By embracing inclusion we can savor sweetness we might otherwise miss out on experiencing!

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