John 13:31-33a, 34-35
When Judas had left them, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and God will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
In our readings today, we see a common theme. That theme is love. Paul and Barnabus showed us their love today. They went on quite a mission to spread the good news of the Risen Christ. This was the first of several missions that they would go on. And this was not just a small circle and a small group of people they went out to. You kind of loose your sense of scale in this reading. The eastern coast of the Mediterranean sea. That is where their mission centers around. But it is not just a walk up and down the coast.
Paul and Barnabus start out in Derbe, which is in the middle of modern day Turkey. The first Antioch they stop at is in the Midwest part of Turkey. Perga and Atalia are near the south-west coast of Turkey. The second Antioch that is mentioned is not the first one in Midwest Turkey; it is actually a totally different Antioch in Northwest Syria. The route they were on took them over 400 miles that they had to walk, plus over 300 miles that they had to sail to get to Syria. The mission that Paul and Barnabus were on was to bring the news of the Risen Christ to the gentiles along the eastern Mediterranean.
Now the Jewish people who had settled in this area were not exactly supportive of the idea that the son of God had come to earth and the Jewish leaders from the Temple in Jerusalem had him killed. They spread a lot of lies about this Christ fellow to discredit the work Paul and Barnabus were doing. The Jewish people got so angry at the beginning of this mission that they dragged Paul outside of town and stoned him. They thought Paul was dead and left him, but Paul got up and continued to preach to whoever would listen. Timex must have gotten their slogan from Paul. He takes a lickin’ but keeps on tickin’. It was love for the entire human race that drove Paul to continue his mission.
John’s Revelation shows us God’s love for us. Again we see very vivid imagery. John describes the holy city of Jerusalem coming out of Heaven from God. He tells us of a new Heaven and a new Earth. John’s visions were about the fulfillment of the covenant; the original covenant from Genesis. I will be your God, and you will be my people. Let me put some of this imagery into context. For the Jewish people, Jerusalem was the center of the world. So when John sees Jerusalem coming out of Heaven and how beautiful it looked, the way this image makes him feel is that all people are cleansed and worthy to be with God. This is what most Jewish people would have felt when hearing this imagery.
In our Gospel today, Jesus shows us his love as he comforts the Apostles. Jesus reminds them that what is about to happen; that event that will give glory to God, is going to happen very soon, and he tells them to love one another the way he loved them. John continuously preached that three things will last: Faith, Hope and Love, the greatest of which is Love. We have heard Jesus say this before. When he was questioned by the Pharisees about which of God’s commands was the most important. Even then he said “Love God above all and love your neighbor as yourself.” Jesus said to the apostles, and he is saying to us today, to let your love for each other be the sign of the Christ in you.
Paul showed us he had a lot of love. Imagine preaching the Good News of Salvation, and being stoned for it, then traveling almost 1,000 miles by foot and by boat continuing to preach the whole way. It certainly was not for his health. And this was just his first mission. He loved everyone. He loved them so much that he took beatings and stoning from the very people he wanted to bring to Christ. And he was Christ to them.
As Christians we are called to love one another and that love is a badge of honor and we should wear it proudly and if we truly do love one another, that love must extend to everyone, not just the people that are easy to love. We must let our love be a sign that we believe that Christ is our redeemer and savior. We must not be afraid to show our love. We must be Christ for one another. So when we go out into the world today, remember to love one another, to be Christ for one another, and to wear a good pair of shoes for the long journey ahead.
Written by Fr. James Morgan
St. Valentine Faith Community
Mass: 10AM Every Sunday
2301 E Sunset Road
Las Vegas, NV 89119
702-523-8963 Rev Sue Provost, Pastor
"This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son into the world that we might live through him. This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for our sins. " (1 John 4:9-10)