Jesus_The_Good_Shepherd_Byzantine_IconMy sisters and brothers in Christ,

Think about this disciple of the Lord, Paul. In the first reading today, from the Acts of the Apostles, he is still called Saul. He had persecuted the Church ferociously and now wants to be part of the Church. The fear of the early followers is completely understandable. Do wolves change to lambs? Not often! We must ask ourselves: do I accept it when a person changes and asks forgiveness? In the second reading today, from the First Letter of John, we are reminded of the teachings of Jesus while He lived on this earth. It is Jesus who tells us through His followers: we should believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and love one another just as he commanded us. What does that love mean? It is not about feeling good about another person. No, it is about doing good for the other person, no matter who he or she is. If that person has completely offended us, has destroyed someone we love or even ourselves–that does not matter. We must love that other person completely. And so we come to the Gospel of today, from the Gospel of Saint John. This again teaches us about love when it teaches us to remain in Jesus.

This is not just a thought or a feeling, but an actual choice every day. We must remain in Jesus by following His example and doing what He told us. And the principle teaching of Jesus is always that we must love God and love one another. That love for others is always tested if we love our enemies. It is not tested if we only love our friends. Christ is risen! Christ rose from the dead in order that we might have life. The life we have is not the life that world wants us to have.

We are not here to seek pleasure and enjoyment and power and sex and money. We are here to love and to sacrifice ourselves in love just as Jesus did. If we do this, the life of the world to come will be ours in abundance, in every way. Jesus is not threatening us, but telling us the way to live in order to rejoice forever with abundant life. We can understand this love so easily. If we look only for ourselves, then in eternity we will have only ourselves. That is not much consolation! If we love God and others in this life, we will have God and others forever. Let us choose wisely now so that we can live with joy and delight forever.

Christ is risen. Alleluia.

Father Jesus