6th Sunday of Easter - May 6, 2018 (Thoman)

6th Sunday of Easter

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 I Jn 4:7-10 | Jn 15:9-17

“Love one another.”

I. Last year when I was interviewing a boy for First Communion, I spontaneously
decided at the end of the interview to ask him a new question not on the suggested
list. I asked, “Do you love Jesus?"  And he just burst out with a spontaneous, enthusiastic “yes!”

I could tell it was heartfelt and genuine. What an inspiration that was. I hope he continues to love
Jesus today and that he has grown in love.

II. Today’s readings and message are all about love. Between the second reading and
the gospel, the word love is used 17 times! In the gospel it is used 9 times.
In order to understand what is meant by “love” in the gospel, we need to
understand how “love” is understood in the Greek language. In English, we use
just one word to describe a range of experiences. We can say, “I love spring” or “I
love my wife.” Each is a type of love, but there is a great difference with what is
meant in each experience.

The Greek language has at least three different words to describe our

  • “eros” is a possessive kind of love; we get our English word “erotic” from it
  • “philia” is a friendship kind of love: like the love in a family or between friends.
    Think: city of Philadelphia.
  • and a third kind of love is “agape.” This is a sacrificial kind of love: this love is so
    deep we would really die for someone else. Consider: Jesus’ death on the

The only word used in the gospel reading today is “agape.” It is used to describe
God’s love for us – our love for God – and our love for one another.
Sometimes couples may be very close; they may be in a very serious relationship
and there may come a point where they decide to take their love to “the next level.”

What is the “next level?” It’s not what you might be thinking. The next level is
“agape.” It is a radical call to give of ourselves completely for one another – just as
God loves us. This kind of love is possible for us human beings especially if and
when we know God’s love for us.

III. To help us with this, Jesus uses a very intimate term to describe the relationship he
looks for with us:

  • two weeks ago, Jesus described our relationship with him as shepherd and sheep
  • last week it was vine and branches
  • today, Jesus uses the image of friends: you are my friends. He doesn’t say
    students, sheep, slaves…”but friends.”

What a privilege and honor it is to be chosen as a friend. Reflect upon how beautiful
it is to be in friendship with someone: someone has accepted us for who and how we
are. We have someone to share life experiences with. And in that sharing we have
many opportunities to grow.

Jesus is looking for agape love: a love with expectations, a love in which we are
willing to give of ourselves for the other person. This is an active love: we are called,
and expected, to reach out to others. This even more than what we think of as
friendship love. This is a love in which we are called to even die for another.
Agape challenges us to love deeply and intensely. It may not always be possible,
but it is the invitation Jesus extends to us. Knowing God’s love for us, we can share
that same love with others.

IV. Audrey/Jacob/Ellie – today is your First Communion Day. This is a big step in your
growing love for Jesus. Today, you will draw closer to Jesus in this sacrament. You
will grow in your friendship with Jesus. May you always see Jesus as a friend and
may you grow in your love for Jesus every day of your life.

Fr. Dwayne Thoman