“the truth I have now come to realise is that God doesn’t have favourites.. anybody of any nationality who fears [ loves ] God & does what is right is acceptable to him.” as Roman Catholics some of us may have felt we were God’s elect, the one true faith, being careful not to compromise our status by inappropriately associating with those of other denominations or faiths.. each January is a Week of Prayer for Christian Unity, to pray & to play at togetherness, & then sadly, 51wks to practice safe Catholicism rather than real adventurous Christianity..
“..the Holy Spirit came down on all the listeners” ..not on all those present, but on those who were listening.. ;Lord have mercy “..Jewish believers were astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too..” ..us yes but surely not them as well.. ;Christ have mercy “..they [Jewish insiders] could hear them [pagan outsiders] speaking strange languages & proclaiming the greatness of God..” ;Lord have mercy May Almighty God have mercy on us, forgive us our sins & bring us to everlasting life. Amen.
“ a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” one of Jesus’ closest friends was Cephas Peter Rock..mr dependability, mr reliability, who, just days before Jesus spoke this gospel to his disciples, had professed such belief & conviction “why can’t I follow you now?” after Jesus had told him gently “you will follow me later” “I will lay down my life for you” said mr bravado “lay down your life for me?” said Jesus “I tell you most solemnly before the cock crows you will have disowned me three times” & he did.. “what I command you is to love one another” a few chapters later after the Resurrection, fishing skipper Peter & his crew, having caught nothing all night were returning to shore, & a stranger asks if they’d caught anything “nothing” so the stranger tells them to go out again,& this time put net down to starboard.. would you an expert have listened to a stranger?.. they do so & net catch of a lifetime.. realise it is Jesus, “it is the Lord!” he invites them to a meal on beach “come & have breakfast” & during it, Jesus asks Peter “Simon do you love me?” 14yrs ago Pope Benedict wrote a beautiful meditation on the conversation, & I would like to share it with you, with my love.. “in Greek the word “fileo” means the love of friendship, tender but not all-encompassing; instead word “agapao” means love without reserve, total & unconditional. Jesus asks Peter the first time “Simon, do you love me?” [agapas-me] with this total & unconditional love. Prior to the experience of betrayal [3times] the Apostle certainly would have said “I love you [agapo-se] unconditionally. Now that he has known the bitter sadness of infidelity, the drama of his own weakness, Simon says with humility; “Lord, you know that I love you [filo-se] that is “I love you with my poor human love” Christ insists; “Simon, do you love me with this total love that I want?” & Peter repeats the response of his humble human love; “Kyrie, filo-se” “Lord, I love you as I am able to love you.” the third time Jesus only says to Peter “fileis-me”.. “do you love me?” Simon understands that his poor love is enough for Jesus.. it is the only one of which he is capable, nonetheless he is grieved that the Lord spoke to him in this way. He thus replies; “Lord you know everything, you know that I love you [filo-se]” that is to say that Jesus has put himself on the level of Peter, rather than Peter on Jesus’ level” it is exactly this divine conformity that gives hope to the disciple, who experienced the pain of infidelity. From here is born the trust that makes him able to follow Christ to the end; “this he [Jesus] said to show by what death he was to glorify God. After this he said to him “follow me” [John 21.19] From the naïve enthusiasm of initial acceptance [mr bravado] passing through the sorrowful experience of denial [“woman I do not know him” x3] & the weeping of conversion, Peter succeeded in entrusting himself to that Jesus who adapted himself to Peter’s poor capacity to love…& in this way, he shows us the way, notwithstanding all of our weaknesses. We know that Jesus adapts himself to this weakness of ours.”
“this is my commandment love one another as I have loved you” 3 wks ago 20yr old lad Jimi Olubunmi-Adewole, on his way home at midnight from work in a London restaurant, crossing London Bridge he heard screams from woman who he had seen fall into river.. he & another passer-by jumped in to save her; she & the second man were saved, but Jimi died. A friend said later “he was a spiritual person inside his heart & his actions say enough. I just want to say thank you to him. Wherever he is right now, I bet he’s eating. He’ll be looking down at everyone & eating something & smiling. He was just really special.”.. “come & have breakfast”.. “a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” & for strangers who, because of self-sacrificial love in footsteps of Christ, become, like Jimi, life-long friends.. in Jimi’s case eternal life-long friends.. “Jimi, fileis-se” [ do you love me? ] ..Katherine, Marie, Francis, Michael, Jane, Maureen, Rhoda, David “fileis-me?” “you did not choose me, no I chose you; & I commissioned you [co-missioned shared my mission to love with you ] to go out & to bear fruit, fruit that will last, & then the Father will give you anything you ask him in my name.” I wonder what you would ask for knowing you had the divine promise on it?.. perhaps for others to remember you as they remember Jimi “ he/she was a spiritual person inside their heart & their actions say enough. I just want to say thank you to them.” ..naive enthusiasm, sorrowful denial, tears of conversion, entrusting themselves to a Jesus who adapts himself to their poor capacity to love, & my poor capacity to love.. he meets us & loves us where we are.. [6th Sun Easter Yr B Jn 15;9-17]