Br. Bernard Jean Delcourt, OHC
Easter 6 B – Sunday, May , 2015
1 John 5:1-6
|Abide in my love.|
The farewell discourse encapsulates Jesus’ teaching and instructions to the disciples prior to his passion. And the central message of the farewell discourse comes in our passage of today. The central message that Jesus imparts on the disciples and on us is to love one another as Jesus loves, as God loves.
But first, Jesus invites us to abide in him as he himself abides in God the source of all existence. To abide is to live somewhere, to remain, to persevere, to have stability. The disciples are invited to become permanent residents in living out God’s love, in living out God’s commandment.
This is a continuation of last week’s metaphor of Jesus being the true vine and us being its fruitful produce if we let God prepare us for it.
Jesus invites us to share and taste his joy; the joy he finds in being in relationship with God. Jesus wants our joy to be complete as a result of right relationship with God, as a result of loving God and obeying God’s commandments. This is not a soppy and sugar-coated kind of joy. Jesus models this joy for the apostles on an evening when he fully expects to be betrayed into his passion. And yet, the joy of loving relationship endures, even beyond death.
But what does it mean in our day to day lives to love God actually rather than in devout pronouncements. In order to be in right relationship with God, we need to be in right relationship with one another. And that means loving our neighbor without condition and without limit.
This love is not slavish servility nor bossy care-taking. In our text today, the Greek work is agape which is a love which desires and prefers what is good for the other, for the community of those who share meals together.
Jesus even points out that the ultimate agape love of our neighbor could involve giving our lives for our neighbor.
Now most of us aren’t in a situation where our neighbors need our life to be offered up to love them. Instead, most of us are confronted with the day to day nitty-gritty of doing what we can to make our neighbor and the planet’s life a little better.
Often this doesn’t require heroics but a consistent attitude of seeking the greater good for all involved, not just for number one. But persistence and stability in this endeavor of bettering life for individual others and for all creation is a noble form of giving our life for our neighbor.
In loving others that way, we put God first in our lives in everyday words and actions. And when we do this, we are in right relationship with God, we love God as Jesus asks us to.
But do not be mistaken. Jesus chose you to do this loving on earth, in your life, now. You may have responded to his invitation, but God chose you and loved you first when you were still being formed into this existence. Your loving is God’s loving. It is your abiding in God’s love that enables you to respond in love to God and thus to your neighbor.
You have the choice to respond to Love or not, but Love brought its embrace to you. It is not what you achieved, achieve or will achieve that made you deserving of love. Your mere existence as a child of God ensures you are bathed in the love of God.
And in telling us how to love God in our neighbors, Jesus establishes the new covenant; a covenant of friends not that of a master and his slaves. Our NRSV translations uses servants but the Greek word doulos means slave.
In our old covenant, we were expected to obey the 613 commandments of the Law in awe of God. In our new covenant, we are given a summary of Love’s law that we are expected to embrace for love of God. We are to love as friends, because we empathize with God our friend, our beloved parent, and we want to requite God’s love.
In Jesus, we are shown what it means to live into God’s love. And as friends, Jesus expects us to enthusiastically join in his love of God. Jesus’ love has established a new relationship with God. If we abide in Jesus’ commandment and love God as we love one another, we abide in God’s love.
In his farewell discourse, Jesus is showing us that God is relationship and love. The christian doctrine of the Triune God presents us with three persons who love one another into singleness. And through the humanity of Jesus we got to have that love modeled in our human experience of existence. Because we abide in Jesus’ love, we abide in the love of the triune God.
This week, this community got to hear another farewell discourse. It was the discourse of love as out-poured on our departed brother Andrew and on this community he chose to love. Family, friends, brothers loved Andrew in his departure from this life and hundreds conveyed their love to us through e-mail, texts and social networks comments.
It was a striking demonstration of how God’s love had been at work in Andrew’s life and our own. Let us remember to continue to love one another into God’s love within these walls and far, far beyond them.
Thank you, Andrew, for another great lesson in love.
May you rest in peace and may light perpetual shine upon you and that Celtic harp you’re strumming for heaven’s denizens.