Love and the 4 Gifts of Grace: A Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter
User’s Guide to Sunday, May 22
Sunday, May 22, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter. Mass Readings: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29; Psalm 67:2-3, 5, 6, 8; Revelation 21:10-14, 22-23; John 14:23-29.
The Gospel for today has a number of “sayings” of the Lord Jesus, which together amount to a kind of litany of love. It is a setting forth of the gifts that he, by his grace, is accomplishing and will accomplish in us. Let’s consider the wonderful gifts of grace.
Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever loves me will keep my word.”
Here is a fundamental theology of grace: Keeping the commandments and mandates of the Lord’s word is the fruit of his love, not the cause of it. The Lord says that if you love him, the keeping of the commandments is sure to follow. Note that we do not initiate this love, God does. Scripture says, “We love because he first loved us” (1 John 4:19).
When I was young, I dated a girl who liked square dancing. At the time, I thought square dancing was silly, but my love for her meant that I started to love what she loved; I came to love her family, too. If we let love have its way, it changes our heart and our desires.
Jesus says, “and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
One of Jesus’ great desires was to restore us to unity with the Father. Jesus was crazy about his Father and earnestly desired to have us know him and love him more deeply. If we will but accept the Father’s love and his shalom, offered through Jesus, we will have a tender and joyful relationship with our Abba, our Father. Do you grasp this? The Father loves you, and Jesus has reconciled you to him. This is the Gospel message: Now run to him and watch him run to you. He does not want distance; he wants intimate presence, love and embrace.
Jesus says, “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, will teach you everything and remind you of all that I told you.”
The Christian journey is not accomplished in an instant. Rather, we make this journey with God, the Holy Spirit, who teaches us and makes us mindful of all that Jesus has done for us and taught us. Little by little, we will be transformed by the renewal of our mind (Romans 12:2), for the Holy Spirit will bring to our mind all that the Lord is and all that he taught. Let the Lord change your mind and heart. If he does that, the rest will follow.
[Jesus says,] “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give it to you. Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
Peace is more than the absence of conflict. It is the presence in the relationship of everything that should be there. Peace is access once again to the Father and being able again to walk with him in love, through Jesus Christ. But we don’t just walk with him in some earthly garden paradise, as Adam and Eve did. Rather, we walk with him in heaven. In Jesus we are seated with the Father in honor at his right hand.
Here, then, are some important gifts of grace. Lay hold of them, and live them out. If at times they seem distant, reach out and take back what the devil stole from you. These are gifts of the Lord’s resurrected grace.
- msgr. charles pope
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