On the Road Together for Sunday, May 19
Fifth Sunday of Easter
by Tracy Rodenborn, Director of RCIA
My Last Reflection
Since our family will be moving next week to Rhode Island, this will be my last column for
On the Road Together
. It has been a great blessing in my life to not only be at Emmaus these last few years, but to reflect on the readings each week in communion with this particular community at Emmaus. And, of course, the readings for this weekend are a wonderful way to end our reflections together.
In our first reading, Paul and Barnabas are returning from their first missionary journey which has been hugely successful. They are recounting not only their successes but also their struggles from their time sharing the Good News of Christ. Through these hardships, together with the community who sent them, they look back on their journey and see how God has brought many new converts to the faith. They also explain to the community how God had opened the door for Gentiles to join the community. There is a wonderful energy in this passage as it quickly recounts the end of their journey and the many people who came to faith through their missionary activity.
In our Gospel, as usual, it helps to see the whole context of this reading from John. This passage comes as part of the Last Supper narrative where, you might recall, Jesus has just washed the disciples’ feet. One characteristic of Jesus in John’s Gospel is that Jesus is always in control and knows what is going to happen. Here, He predicts Judas’ betrayal, and Judas has just left the table to “do what he is going to do.” So, on the heals of Judas’ impending betrayal, and just before predicting Peter’s denial in the passage just after this, Jesus shares the new commandment to love one another. Jesus is about to be betrayed and denied, yet in this very context, he continues to guide His disciples in this Farewell Discourse. Not only has Jesus just displayed what it means to love one another by the washing of their feet (serving one another), but it is indeed the very mark of a follower of Christ. It is “how they will know that you are my disciples.” To love as Christ loves is not just another suggestion on how to follow Christ, but it is at the very heart of the whole Christian identity.
Looking at this command in the context of the washing of the feet, what this commandment means is not only to love, but to allow ourselves to be loved with this kind of love: the kind of love where Jesus knows Judas will betray Him, yet washes his feet anyways, the kind of love where Jesus knows Peter will fail miserably very soon, yet washes his feet anyways. Actually, Jesus even convinces Peter to allow himself be washed over with the love of Christ.
So, the love that marks the Christian here in John’s Gospel is not just the ability to love as Christ loves, but to allow ourselves to be loved by the God who empties self so much to be close to us. Our God empties self so much to know us! And even in knowing the good and bad, He desires to be in communion with us.
At the end of this passage we are left with the question of not only can we show that we are Christians by our love, but can we let ourselves be loved with this kind of love?
Readings for May 19:
on Friday, May 17 at 10:50AM