Acts 1:15-17, 20-26
The world we live in is pretty complicated. We get so many mixed and conflicting messages. Our Religion and our faith are constantly under attack. Political correctness seems to rule the day. Many basic Christian beliefs are increasingly not accepted, or put into question. The open practice of faith is being challenged at every opportunity. It was probably similar in Jesus’s time. There were Roman’s and Jews and religious tension. There were Sadducees and Pharisee’s and rules and laws with different interpretations. In both times, the situation can seem intolerable with no way forward. We see in today’s gospel, Jesus enters into that complex world, as he does today, and gives His disciples a simple, yet profound message. Love. He tells them they are loved, and they should love in return.
Pretty basic stuff…but it cuts through all the noise. Suffering, confusion, mixed messages and rejection will always be with us. His answer to all that is that He loves us, and we should love others. Then almost knowing that we might stray or become disheartened, that we will be tested in and by the world, He encourages them (and us) to "remain" in His love. Seemingly a reminder to just stay close to Him through thick and thin. There is so much in the world we can’t control, but to love is our choice, something we can control. He has so often shown us that He won’t abandon us. To remain with Him is our choice.
Our reward for loving? As if we should need one. Jesus tells us it will be a joy that is complete.
No confusion, no lack of clarity, hard to misinterpret. Love is the answer. The way forward. It will bring us joy. Good for us to remember when we are trying to overthink things or when we wonder how to respond in a world not always on our side. I was at mass recently and rather than a homily, the priest just said let’s take a few minutes to reflect on the readings we just heard. Maybe we can try a similar exercise. Just sit and repeat the following…. (your name here), Jesus loves you. How can I stay in that love and bring that love into the world?
Steve Walsh is a retreatant at Mater Dolorosa Retreat Center in Sierra Madre, and a good friend of the Passionist Community