6th Sunday of Easter

First reading: Acts 10:25–26,34–35,44–48

When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.”

Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”

While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.

Second reading: 1 Jn. 4:7–10

Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.

Gospel: Jn. 15:9–17

Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.

“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”

In other words

by Fr. Florencio Lagura, SVD (Christ the King Seminary, Quezon City)

Of the top ten words contained in the Bible, the word “Lord” is mentioned 7,000 times, while the word “God,” cited 4,300 times, comes in second.

Although extremely popular among people, the Bible mentions “love” a mere 759 times!

Even then love has different shades of meaning. For one, it can mean physical or erotic love (eros) as seen in Solomon’s “Song of Songs,” a book once kept away from young readers because it was deemed too sensual.

Secondly, love can also mean clean brotherly love (philia) as in the case of David and Jonathan,  and Jesus and John the Evangelist.

Thirdly, love can be seen in a parent’s concern (storge) for a child. God, through the prophet Isaiah clearly states: “Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she forgets, I will never forget you… I have written your name in the palm of my hands” (Isaiah 49:15–17).

Fourth and lastly, we have divine or Christian love (agape) which is disinterested love, a love seeking the good of the person loved.

This kind of love is shown in Genesis when God, having chosen Abraham as father of his people finally, in answer to his and his wife Sarah’s prayers, blessed the elderly couple with a child they loved. Yet, strangely, God asked Abraham to sacrifice his beloved son to test his love for God (Genesis 22).

In that highly touching scene after the resurrection, Jesus took Peter aside after Peter had denied him thrice. Christ first asked, “Peter, do you love (agapas) me…?” Peter, human that he was, meekly answered, “Lord, you know that I love you (phileo).” In answering, Peter used the same word twice! Finally, Jesus himself went down to Peter’s level asking while also using the word “philein.”

Jesus’ love is the ideal. Our attempts to love him and others will be more and many times real, human and practical. May we rightly say, “Lord, you know that I love (phileo) you. With this kind of love, I will serve.

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