Summary: EASTER 6, YEAR A - "Do you love me" Jesus asks us all. "Yes we love you" we are all quick to reply. "Then keep my commandments" Jesus challenges us.
It’s early in the morning, the alarm hasn’t gone off yet, and the coolness in the air keeps you curled up beneath the covers. The last thing you want to do is to get out of bed. It’s at that moment that you hear a familiar voice say, “Do you love me?” “Oh No!” you say to yourself as you wonder if you could get away with pretending that you are still asleep. But the familiar voice knows better “I said, do you love me” Reluctantly you respond, “Yes I love you!!” “Good, then get up a make me a cup of coffee.” It’s 6:25 PM and the national new is about to start. You have just sat down with the remote in you hand when the dog begins to whine and gives you that look you know so well. It’s your first chance to wind down from a hectic day and you just don’t want to have to do one more thing, but the dog is looking at you with those pleading eyes. You imagine a dialogue in your head. “Do you love me?” “I wonder how things are going in Israel?” you say ignoring the dog. “Whine, whine. I said, do you love me?” Yes, I love you! “Good, then take me for a walk.” Isn’t it amazing how those we love the most can use our expressions of love to get what they want.
We have probably all experienced this dialogue of love in some form or another. So it’s to be expected that when we hear Jesus say, “If you love me” that we might roll our eyes in exasperation, say “Oh Boy, here it comes” beneath our breath, and wait for what the Christ is about to ask from us. Now, Jesus didn’t have on his agenda pick up your mess, take out the trash, or do the dishes. What Jesus had in mind when he said “do you love me” would involve some very hard work for those who make such a bold claim. Genuine love for Jesus means following Jesus, keeping - not just a set of rules, but keeping to a way of life that was exemplified by him. loving as Jesus loved serving as Jesus served doing as Jesus did. This is what it means to keep Christ’s commandments. As much as our society may carry on with fanciful images of true love that don’t amount to a hill of beans we all know that true expressions of love must ultimately lead to acts of love. Christ calls us to action because that is the essence of love.
As Christians when we claim that “God so loved the World that He gave His Only begotten Son...” we are tapping into the ancient Hebrew concept of “Dabar.” Dabar which means both to speak and to act. So that in speaking God acts and in acting God speaks. God’s word, God’s claim of love, became flesh. God’s claim of love took action. God’s claim of love loved us even unto death. Divine love was expressed in word and in action in the person of Jesus Christ. And Jesus said to his disciples as God was in me so shall I now be in you carrying out God’s acts of divine love. As the Spirit of God was in Christ so is the Spirit of Christ now in us empowering us, equipping us, teaching us, guiding us, in the ways that God would have us go. Jesus promised to those who loved him that God would send them another One - the Spirit, to be with us in this labor of love.
In this passage the writer uses a unique word to describe the Spirit. It is "paraclete." That word has had a variety of English translations and all of them point to a different facet of the Spirit’s purpose. The Spirit is the Comforter bringing us encouragement and healing. The Sprit is the Advocate who pleads our cause with the Father. The Spirit is the Counselor bringing us advice and guidance. The Spirit is the Helper who comes to our aid. But behind each of these images is the heart, and literal meaning of ‘paraclete’. He is one who comes alongside, who walks this life with us, who will stand by our side and provide all we need to help us live out our love for Christ, as Christ himself commands us. Christ has promised not to leave us alone. He has promised us the unfailing presence of his Spirit in us. And that is all anyone would ever need to bring love into action and to carry on the divine work that the Christ has given us. Such love in action is highlighted by this poem known as the Prayer of St. Theresa