Acts 8:5-8, 14-17; 1 Pet. 3:15-18; Jn. 14:15-21
The Words of Jesus in the conclusion of the Gospel Reading were, "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." [Jn. 14:21]
Like the Ten Commandments, these commands that Jesus gave in the gospels were not the ten suggestions but imperative commands that we have no room to rationalize them away. Jesus came down to earth and told you to do something. Love One Another. John 13:34-35 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.”
Here is “a new command” that Jesus gives to us. We are commanded to love one We are to love one another just as Jesus loved us.
When a homeless man walked into Cesia Abigail Baires’ restaurant asking for money, she refused.
Heartless, you might think, but in fact, Cesia had something better in mind. She asked the homeless man why he didn’t have a job, to which he responded that his past was preventing him from changing his future.
“Well, I have a lot of felonies and no one wants to hire me for that, so now I had to turn myself to the streets and get money the only way I know, stealing and asking for money.”
Instead of giving him money, Cesia gave him a job.
She could never have imagined that her blessing him would wind up being an even bigger blessing to her!
In the midst of evil, light will always prevail. That’s one thing that the Bible and the World somehow always find a way to agree on. Nothing shows the power of selflessness and loving your neighbour then doing so in the darkest moments.
That’s just what Brendan Kelly did in October when bullets started raining down.
“Before I knew what was going on, Brendan tackled me down to the ground and covered me from the fire,” a young woman wrote on Facebook. “It stopped again and he looked around to see what was happening and then it just kept going.”
A U.S. Marine, Brendan exceeded his duty to serve and protect. It’s in his blood to put others’ lives before his own, and during the festival, he did just that! He used his own body to shield a stranger from flying bullets.
We see many stories like this around us. People supporting the needy in big and small ways. But any help that we give though seem very insignificant for us may bring great smile to the one who receives it.
The early Christians practiced this command of Jesus and looking at them people exclaimed, “Look at how they love one another ”
Another command of Jesus is “Pray for your Enemies.”
Matthew 5:44-45 “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven. For he makes his sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”
This was diametrically opposed to the ways of the world and that is exactly the reason that Jesus commands us to not only pray for our enemies but to love them too. It is humanly impossible. This kind of love…loving our enemies and praying for those who persecute us is the kind of love that is like that of God and we can’t possibly do it without the Holy Spirit of God. He tells us to pray for them and love them “so that” or in order that we “may be sons (and daughters) of [our] Father.” A godly love is one where we are to pray for our enemies because Jesus prays for us and died for us while we were still His enemies and wicked sinners (Rom 5:8, 11).
Finally, “Take up your Cross and Follow Me”
Matthew 16:24-25 “Then Jesus told his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever would save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it.”
Jesus tells his disciples, and He tells us to follow Him but if anyone is to follow after Jesus, they must deny themselves and then “take up His cross and follow” Him. This is not a suggestion. If we want to follow Him, it is conditional; we must take up His cross and deny ourselves. We must deny the things that we like, the things of this world, and take up the things that Jesus endured.
Today our community, our nation and the world need the message of Jesus to bring back unity, peace and harmony. Everyone is lifted up by one individual choosing peace. One person can create something that ignites all of our collective hopes, energies, and dreams.
"The only way we can make peace is for each of us to be the peace we want to see." wrote Susan Collin Marks.
It's up to us. We can't wait for someone more powerful or wiser to deliver peace. We are the wise and powerful ones who choose peace in every thought and action.
Martin Luther King showed us that even the simplest acts tilt the world toward peace. When his house was burned during the civil rights movement, he raced home not knowing if his wife and young daughter were safe. And he knew whatever he did could affect the anger brewing in the country. He stepped onto his porch and said, "Remember, this is what God said, 'We are not advocating violence. We want to love our enemies. I want you to love your enemies. Be good to them. Love them and let them know you love them.'"
It's hard to stay peaceful if we're overwhelmed by life. Find some peace, calm, and stability in your inner world so you can be kinder in your outer world. Do whatever soothes you, daily. Spend time in nature, meditate, play with children and talk to elders. And remember that more people are at peace than at war all across the earth.
I recall the Words of Jesus in the conclusion of the Gospel Reading were, "They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me; and those who love me will be loved by my Father, and I will love them and reveal myself to them." [Jn. 14:21]