Father Donald Senior, CP

May 15: Fifth Sunday of Easter

Wednesday, May 4, 2022

Love each other

Acts 14:21-27; Ps 145:8-9, 10-11,12-13; Rev 21:1-5; Jn 13:31-33, 34-35

Recently a friend shared with me a word of wisdom from the late Brazilian writer Fernando Sabino: “In the end, everything will be all right. If it’s not all right, it’s not the end.”  

Those are words to live by, I believe, and, in fact, they express a deep conviction of our Christian faith — a conviction founded on the death and resurrection of Jesus that we celebrate this Easter season. Death does not have the last word, abundant life does. 

We believe this not because the evidence is overwhelming — there is an awful lot of death in various forms in our world these days — but because we trust in the God of infinite love who raised Jesus from the dead. The tomb is empty.

These reflections are captured in the unique second reading for this Sunday from the Book of Revelation. Revelation is the last book in the Christian canon and its sometimes-wild apocalyptic style can baffle us. “Apocalyptic” derives from the Greek word “revelation” (hence the title of the “Apocalypse”) and describes a special style of writing found both in Jewish and early Greco-Roman literature.

Apocalyptic literature is crisis literature written in a highly symbolic and dramatic style in times when the world order seems to be coming apart at the seams. The goal of apocalyptic literature is to recognize the chaos but also to summon hope and strength to face the future. 

Our Sunday lectionary rarely selects passages from Revelation and 90 percent of this challenging New Testament book is never cited at all. But the selection from Revelation for this Sunday captures the fundamental conviction of our Easter faith. 

At the very end of the book, the author, John, has a powerful vision of “a new heaven and a new earth;” the former world of chaos and death has “passed away,” along with the chaotic and threatening sea that often the Bible depicted as the abode of demons.

This new creation takes the form of “the holy city, a new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God.” In the segment that follows our reading, the author will describe the beauty of this renewed city in glorious terms: It is exceedingly beautiful, its walls made of jewels, it glows with bright light, and there is no violence or fear in all this city.

Our passage says it all. In the very heart of this city God dwells. A loud voice proclaims: “Behold God’s dwelling is with the human race. He will dwell with them and they will be his people and God himself will always be with them as their God. He will wipe every tear from their eyes, and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain.” 

The “old order has passed away,” and God proclaims: “Behold, I make all things new.” This is the glorious and hope-filled end portrayed in the concluding chapter of the final book of the Bible. It is, in a true sense, God’s final word to us.

When I read this passage from Revelation, I thought of the terrible images of destruction of cities in Ukraine and peoples’ homes utterly destroyed. Their lives shattered by wanton violence. This is a terribly accurate picture of the kind of destruction the author of Revelation had witnessed in his own day under the threat of the Roman Empire.

As always in our Sunday Scripture readings, the Gospel has the last word. Today, we hear the words of Jesus that are the very essence of his teaching: “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.”

No doubt some will brush aside today’s Scripture message as naive and worthless magical thinking. But for us as followers of Jesus, these are the words of ultimate truth and the basis for our hope. We do believe, that because of God’s healing love “in the end, everything will be all right.”


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