Sunday, May 17, 2009

Sixth Sunday of Easter

Good News Reflection
May 17, 2009
Sixth Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

Sunday's Readings:
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Ps 98:1-4
1 John 4:7-10
John 15:9-17

Servanthood is the mark of true Christian living. Jesus emphasized it during the Last Supper, saying that he came not to be served, but to serve, and that likewise we should serve one another. In his parables, he often referred to believers as "servants" of the Kingdom. But in Sunday's Gospel reading, Jesus says that he wants us to be his friends, not his slaves. Is he contradicting himself?

Not at all! Friends serve because they care. Slaves serve because of duty and the fear of punishment.

Jesus said, "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love." Do we hear this as a friend or a slave?

Slaves are afraid of what will happen if they fail to keep God's commandments; they are self-protective. Friends are eager to find out what God commands, because they view the commandments from the perspective of love, as opportunities to serve; they are other-oriented.

Jesus said, "This is my commandment: Love one another the way I love you." It's the supreme commandment; call it the Commandment of Friendship. He says, "You know how I love you, my friends: I openly share with you everything that the Father tells me." His friends realize that what he shares (through scripture and through the Church) reveals the opportunities to love that we seek. Every commandment is rooted in love. Every Church teaching is based on love.

When we fail to obey, do we lose God's love? Never! Do we lose our place in his love? Yes. By living outside of his commandments, we feel unloved even while being loved.

This is slavery. We're enslaved by fear or by false beliefs or by our wounds that have caused us to think that we're not loved enough. God's commands then feel confining, and if we try to escape, we commit rebellion. Those who don't rebel accept their slavery and obey dutifully in the hope of winning God's love.

Friends, on the other hand, know that God always loves them, and in this love, they are free to serve one another joyfully.

Questions for Personal Reflection:
Are you obeying God like a slave or his best friend? Do you eagerly and happily jump into doing the will of God or do you complain about it? Do you ever want to escape from God's will? What will you do this week to become more aware of his friendship?

Questions for Community Faith Sharing:
What raises our relationships with God from slavery into friendship? Describe the differences between obeying out of duty and obeying out of love. How do you define friendship with God?

copyright 2009, Terry Modica

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