Father Mark’s Pastoral Direction

Love one another…

Judas leaves, and Jesus announces that the moment has come for God’s power to be made manifest. This is unexpected at a moment of imminent betrayal. Have there been times for us when the power of God was made manifest in strange circumstances?

‘I shall not be with you much longer.’ Jesus announces a parting of the ways. There are places we have to go in life, where others cannot come with us. There are places others have to go and we cannot accompany them. When have we experienced this going on alone as necessary for a fuller life for ourselves, or for someone else?

Jesus proclaims love as the distinguishing characteristic of his followers. Have there been times when reaching out to others has heightened sense of walking in the footsteps of Jesus?

Who are the individuals or communities whose love for one another and for others has been a witness to us?

‘Love one another’ is the basic principle of Christianity, to love as Jesus loved. It is simple, yet we can make it so complicated. Jesus’ love was controversial for some people, because it was love without exclusion. To love as Jesus loved is to love those it is hard to love. This love ultimately led to Jesus’ death. Jesus loved sinners, tax collectors, prostitutes, people of other religions, the poor, the unwanted, the sick, the beggar, the leper. This love is too much for some Christians today also. It is hard to love the sinner or to love family members or friends who have hurt us. Yet this is the love that we are called to. Once we begin to accept that we are infinitely loved by God, it is like a domino effect where that love is poured outwards in our lives. We are part of this outpouring of God’s creative love and are called to bring this into places where there is none. In this way we are helping to heal, sustain and nourish this world.

Let us hear those words of the Gospel more clearly today another. ‘Just as I have loved you, you must also love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples.’ Let us dream of, and work towards, a world where this is a reality. So, when Jesus talks to his disciples, calling them his little children and reminding them that his departure is imminent, they will listen like never before – they will be obedient to what he is saying. He gives them again the heart, the kernel of his message: love. They are to remember his love for them, and to share it with others. By this they will be seen as his disciples – this is how they will witness to the truth of the Gospel.

Paul and Barnabas were animated by love, otherwise they could not have persevered through the hardships and opened the door of faith to those who had never heard of Jesus. Today, we all need fresh heart instilled in us, so that we, too, may persevere in a world that is hostile to Christ’s message, having been scandalized by the abuse of love among Christians.

Our parents teach us so much: a language, a sense of duty; the difference between right and wrong, and most importantly, they give us the confidence we need to go out into the world at large as ambassadors oh hope. How do they do this/ By love.

And Jesus does the same – he knows our nature, he knows that we’re always impressed and touched by love. How else could we ever know others? How else could we ever know God?

‘God has given us the power to create beauty, to make another smile, to be a healing presence in someone’s sorrow, to bring justice to the oppressed, to console those in difficulty, to bring peace and joy to others, to help those in need, to laugh and enjoy life, to do good and turn from evil, to forgive those who have hurt us, and, most of all, to love.’  Iris Perez

Father Mark