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Obstacles to love

Everything is new! There is a new law of love, a new heaven and earth that has been established in the Church, a new depth of communion there and a new glory of God that shines forth from its members.

The new commandment that Jesus announces represents something much greater than tolerance or mutual respect. It is one that requires self-sacrificing love.

However, all love has obstacles. Perhaps the greatest obstacle to this love is the diversity of the ethnic makeup of our societies in the world today that we discussed last Sunday on the feast of the Good Shepherd.

Our common experience is that it is hard enough to love those who are like us; let alone those who are quite different in background, culture and traditional beliefs or customs.

The big question posed in today’s liturgy is how can we possibly love those who are different? And how can we love those who do not love us? Or maybe, how can we love anyone at all!

It is no wonder that Jesus called his commandment new. It calls for something completely different and it was certainly something quite alien to the people of his day.

Through this new love, this new heaven and new earth, this new depth of communion, the glory of God is manifested in a new way. The eschatological future is anticipated in the present. The age of fulfilment has dawned.

During the coming week we will celebrate the feasts of St. Philip and St. James (May 4). Little is known of these two saints. However, Matthew, Mark, Luke, John and Acts all list them among the apostles.

But John mentions Philip on four other occasions. In one instance, Philip invites people to come and see Jesus, but in the last occurrence he asks Jesus if he would be able to see the Father.

James (not the brother of John) becomes the bishop of Jerusalem and an influential person in the Council of Jerusalem. In all probability he is the author of the New Testament letter.

Jewish and Church historians of the time attest to his wise leadership and martyrdom in the year 62 AD.

The question of human freedom has always been a challenge to the Christian conscience. 

Christianity preaches a truth that saves, but this truth must be accepted by people in true freedom.

The theologian, Gustavo Gutierrez, writes that God is the one who makes the call and the human person responds. But their response must be free, just as the gift that God makes is free.

Next Sunday, May 5, we observe the sixth Sunday of Easter in the Latin Rite of the Church. However, the Orthodox Churches and the Catholic Ukrainian Greek Church will celebrate Easter, or the Pascha (Sunday of the Resurrection).

These Churches follow the Julian Calendar, while western Christians follow the Gregorian Calendar. Remember to wish your Greek friends Kalo Pasch (Happy Easter) or Christos Anesti! (Christ is Risen!).


l Diocese of Sandhurst