Reflection for Thursday, May 6, 1999: 5th week in Easter.

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Gillick, Larry, S.J.
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In today's liturgy we have a long first reading and a short second one, but the Gospel seems to highlight what is the theme in the reading from Acts.||Listening to Jesus telling His friends, and us, that as He has loved us so should we love one another is so comforting and sounds like the exact thing we would want to do. Jesus tells us that he encourages us to love so that His joy and our joy may be complete. We are attracted to this kind of teaching and teacher. Loving and being joyful as a result seems to be the exact pattern we all would want to live.|We have a wonderful story in the first reading which shows just how demanding true love in Christ can be. Peter and Paul and others are having a discussion with those who have converted to the following of Jesus. The question before the assembly is should the new gentile converts also have to do some of the religious practices which the jewish converts once practiced.|Peter tells it like it is by saying , "Our belief is rather that we are saved by the favor of the Lord Jesus and so are they." The love of God has made us all God's chosen family and loving each other is the new law which replaces all other religious practices which once constituted a person as righteous.|The early church had its growing pains and even arguments, but as we see in this reading from Acts, compassionate understanding and gentle Christ-love is the best and only way to settle disagreements, especially about religion and religious topics.|We are praying these days for peace in the world and a peace that resolves injustice. We pray for those areas of our world which suffer wars and hatred in the name of religion. Christians and Jews, Christians and Muslims, Christians and Hindi; all hating, suspecting and killing each other for the sake of religion, amazing, but real.|As soft and sweet and gentle as the words of today's gospel seem to be, their implications are frightening. Hatred and suspicion need distance, and love and compassion need contact. This is true between neighbors, family members as well as religious groups. "Live on in My love, you will live in My love, if you keep my commandments..."
University Ministry, Creighton University.
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