Fifth Sunday of Easter - Year C - 24th April, 2016

A Fresh Heart

Jesus gives us a new commandment: “love one another as I have loved you”. Love is a word that is so misused in our world of to-day. To help them to a better understanding of love, the Greeks had three different words for three different kinds of love. One was for friendship, one was for erotic or sexual love, and the third was the love that desires the welfare of others and is willing to help make it happen. This last one is the kind of love Jesus is asking for. This kind of love is the product not of emotion but of conviction and of the will. It is not the same as liking people, some people we like, others we don’t like. We don’t control our feelings.

 

The commandment Jesus gives is not asking us to like people but to love them. He calls it a new commandment. Why? People before the time of Jesus had often recommend that people love each other, but Jesus’ request is different in that firstly he asks us to love not only our friends but our enemies, and he asks us to love as He loved – selflessly giving of ourselves. But we hesitate.

 

So many things conspire to paralyze us from loving others and we tend to back away fearful of the evil all round us. “For evil to thrive all that is needed is for good people to do nothing”. It is only by love that we will overcome evil. We know we should be out doing good, but we are too tired, or too dispirited.

 

How can we love others unconditionally, especially our enemies and those who have hurt us? You may think that you are not up to it, and you are right. All by ourselves we cannot love this way. But with God’s grace we can. If it were not so God would not have asked us. Through the power of Christ’s cross and resurrection we have access to God's grace and mercy.

 

St Paul was filled with a compassionate love for the communities he formed. We find him giving them a “fresh heart” and gently encouraging them to persevere. Like those people we could do with a “fresh heart.”

 

Think for a moment about what a “fresh heart” could do for you, and through you, what it might do for others. “Fresh hearts” means a call to action. . It doesn’t ask for a new or elaborate strategy, but the will to take the first small step in reaching out to another.

 

Pope Francis “Let us be renewed by God's mercy, let us be loved by Jesus, let us enable the power of his love to transform our lives ; and let us become agents of this love and mercy, channels through which God can water the earth, protect all creation and make justice and peace flourish .”

Fr Kevin O'Shea, C.M.