Meditation on This Sunday's Gospel
by Kristin Berkey-Abbott
The readings for Sunday, May 13, 2012:
1 John 5:1-6
This week's Gospel continues where last week's lessons about the vine and the branches left off. Notice how many times Jesus commands us to love each other.
Yet most elements of Western culture encourage us to put ourselves first, to keep ourselves isolated. But Christ calls us to a different kind of life. In Eat this Book, Eugene H. Peterson says, ". . . the words of Scripture can no longer be handled by means of definition, 'who is my neighbor?' The text insists on participation, 'will you be a neighbor?' Jesus insists on participation. Jesus dismisses the scholar with a command, 'Go and do . . .' Live what you read. We read the Bible in order to live the word of God" (84).
Again and again, Jesus tells us to love each other. He knows how much we need each other’s love. As a church, we don't devote a whole Sunday to Jesus' Ascension into Heaven and in a way, that's a shame. It would be a perfect opportunity to remind ourselves that Jesus leaves his mission in our hands. We are the ones who must work towards concrete actions in the physical realm. In today's Bible reading, Jesus makes it clear that we're his equals. He calls us friends. We are to go forth and bear fruit.
On this Mother’s Day, as we read the Gospel, we might see Jesus as the ultimate mother. Jesus nourishes us by giving us his own body. But Jesus doesn’t nourish us just to keep us close and smothered and dependent. Like any good parent, Jesus nourishes us and trains us so that we’re ready to leave the nest, ready to be resurrection people shining light into a darkening and desperate world.
You may not be feeling like you’re in a loving space right now. Pretend that you are. Make the effort that it takes not to snap at your troublesome colleague. Pray for the people that annoy you. Leave love notes for your family members. Say please and thank you more often.
Here, too, on Mother’s Day, we can look at the mothers who are doing a good job and try to emulate them. Tell people that they’ve done a good job when they have. Thank people for doing their chores. Remind people that they need to use their words, and not in their angry voices. Say please and thank you more often, and apologize when you’ve not done your best. Look for ways to make play dates with God and with the world.
You will likely find yourself transformed by your own actions—and hopefully, you’ll find the world transforming around you in response to your loving kindness.
Receive replenishment from Christ so that your withered branch will once again bear fruit. Allow yourself to be transformed into the part of the plant that sustains life.