Meditation on This Week's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, May 17, 2009:
First Reading: Acts 10:44-48
Psalm: Psalm 98
Second Reading: 1 John 5:1-6
Gospel: John 15:9-17
In this week's Gospel, Jesus again reminds us to love each other. If I had to sum up the whole of the New Testament, I'd do it this way: Love God (which of course would include Jesus and the Holy Spirit), and love each other with as much intensity as you love God. Jesus doesn't present us a choice in the matter. We're commanded to love each other.
And the impact of this commandment is even greater. We must love everyone--not just the people who are easy to love.
Let's be honest with each other. We don't always do a good job of loving people whom it's easy to love. For example, I know that my grandmother loves getting mail. There's a thrill about getting something in her mailbox from family members. In some ways, it doesn't matter what's in the envelope. She's just so thrilled to get mail. I understand that--I've been a student; I've been a homesick camper at Lutheridge.
How hard would it be for me to send her something once a week or once a day? She doesn't do e-mail, but I could print an e-mail and mail it the old-fashioned way. Often, I do a good job of mailing something once a week, but then I go away, my routine gets disrupted, and it takes me awhile to get back into that habit.
I'm bad at mailing birthday cards, and I rarely get presents into the mail on time. Why is this so hard for me? I love my family. If I had an abusive family, I might let myself off the hook, but I don't, so I won't.
Then I feel despair. If it's so hard to show my loved ones that I love them, how on earth will I do this for people who are less lovable?
Jesus came to show us the way. We show love by sharing a meal. We show love by spending time with people. We show love by listening to people. We show love by praying for them.
You might say, "Well, that's just too hard." That's where being a member of a faith community is important. Through our faith communities, we can show love by working with the poor and dispossessed, in a way that we can't by ourselves. Here at Trinity, we run a food bank, and we make dinner for the homeless in downtown Ft. Lauderdale once a month. I can't run a food bank by myself. I can't make dinner for 90 homeless people all by myself. But as part of a faith community, I can do all sorts of things that require strength in numbers.
Our faith communities should ideally model good behavior for us. Trinity reminds us of our prayer responsibilities by publishing an updated prayer list each week. At Trinity, we share meals on a regular basis.
Hopefully, our experience of church (and other faith communities) strengthens us for the intense work of loving the world. It's hard work. It's what we're called to do. It's what we must do.