Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter

Your mission is to love one another as the Lord has loved us. It may seem like mission impossible. How does he love his disciples? To the end. He loves them, us, to the end.

Just before he gives this commandment, he tells his disciples that one of them will betray him. He then takes a morsel from table and gives it to Judas who eats it. It is very eucharistic, Jesus gives of himself, of his love to Judas – who will betray him – to the end. He knows what Judas is planning yet he loves him to the end. Judas rejects Jesus’ love to the end; he goes out to betray him.

This leads Jesus to say, as we heard, ‘Now has the Son of Man been glorified’. The Son of Man is a title of Jesus; in John’s Gospel it is used of Jesus as the revelation of God. Weird sort of glory. Judas leaves to betray him and Jesus speaks of glory.

In John’s Gospel, the glory of the Son and his Father are shown on the Cross and his Resurrection. The Resurrection we can understand, but where is there glory on the Cross? When Jesus is lifted up on the Cross we see the glory of God. God’s glory shines forth in the faithful love of the Son for the Father and the love of Father for the Son; the glory of God is revealed in the Son’s faithful love even to being nailed to a Cross where he has nothing to hold him except his love for the Father and the Father’s love for him. The glory of God is revealed in the Father’s love for the Son whom he raises from the dead to sit at his right hand. The glory of God is revealed in the life which flows out from the death and resurrection of the Lord. The glory of God, the glory of the hour, of the Cross is the glory of God’s love for us to the end.

We are drawn into this glory when with the power of the Spirit we love as the Lord has loved us. Now there is the odd thing about this love; it does not control outcomes. It has no guarantees. Jesus loves Judas, but he does not love him on the condition that Judas loves him back. He does not love him on the condition that Judas is good.

We do not like this. A Christianity which is a series of rules to be obeyed so that you are good can be more to our liking than the holiness of loving. Pope Francis has written about the holiness of love present ‘in those parents who raise their children with immense love, in those men and women who work hard to support their families, in the sick, in elderly religious who never lose their smile.’ (Gaudete et Exsultate)

We could say in those moments that ‘now is the Son of Man glorified’. In love we glimpse the glory of God. We, each of us, have a mission. Each of us has a unique mission, a unique way of responding to God’s love. Pope Francis wrote in Gaudete et Exsultate: ‘May you come to realize what that word is, the message of Jesus that God wants to speak to the world by your life. Let yourself be transformed. Let yourself be renewed by the Spirit, so that this can happen, lest you fail in your precious mission. The Lord will bring it to fulfilment despite your mistakes and missteps, provided that you do not abandon the path of love but remain ever open to his supernatural grace, which purifies and enlightens.’

Do not abandon the path of love. Do not abandon the path of love. It is not always an easy path to discern. It is always concrete. It is not loving the ideal person, the person in the abstract, it is loving the flesh and blood person the Lord gives to us. It is praying for the Lord’s guidance so that we can know how to love the person, so that we can love the person.

This loving is not easy and it comes with no guarantees except that God’s love to the end will triumph in the Kingdom when all our tears are wiped away; there will be no more death, no more sadness, God will make all things new in his love. The journey begins with love, continues with love and ends with a love to the end, to the new beginning.