My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We had that beautiful ceremony this past Thursday, as probably you all know. The ordination of new auxiliary bishop for the Archdiocese of Los Angeles — Bishop Alex Aclan. So, he is the, as you know, the second of bishops in the United States born in the Philippines. The first one was Bishop Oscar Solis who also served here in the Archdiocese of Los Angeles, as we know, and we now have Bishop Alex Aclan.
We are very grateful to Pope Francis for appointing a new bishop to us here in the Archdiocese. Bishop Aclan is going to be the regional bishop for the San Fernando region. So let’s keep him in your prayers as he starts his ministry as the new auxiliary bishop here in the Archdiocese.
As you can imagine, the Filipino community — congratulations to the Filipino community as they are all happy with the Filipino bishop, so we all are very happy.
In our Gospel today, Jesus reminds us that we are nearing the end of the Easter season, in just a couple of weeks, we’ll be celebrating the Feast of the Ascension of Our Lord Jesus Christ into Heaven.
So, Jesus, in a sense, is preparing us for his “going away.” In today’s passage of the Gospel, he says: “I will be with you only a little while longer.”
But before he leaves this earth, Jesus has one beautiful final message that he wants to teach his disciples and to all of us. As we heard in today’s Gospel:
My children …
I give you a new commandment:
Love one another!
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is, my dear brothers and sisters, how we are to live as followers of Christ. But I was thinking that it’s interesting that Jesus says that this is a “new” commandment. So why is it a new commandment? What makes it new?
As we know, Jesus had already taught his disciples to love God with all their hearts and to love their neighbors as themselves. He told them that in these two commandments was the whole summary of God’s law.2
So, why does he give today what he calls a “new” commandment. What makes this commandment “new?” I think it’s clear to all of us that what makes this commandment new is Jesus Christ himself.
Jesus does not tell us to love in the “abstract.” He does not just tell us about love, Jesus shows us what he means.
He makes himself the way for us. He is setting himself before us today as the model for our lives. He says again to us today, “If you want to know how to live, if you want to find the happiness you are looking for— follow my words, follow my example.”
And the interesting thing, also for me, is that our faith is not meant to be complicated. It is not a program or a formula, or a set of rules for living. We believe in a Person — a living, divine Person, Jesus Christ, who walks with us, who promises to go with us on the journey of life.
This is so important. Because we find the truth about our lives in looking at the person of Jesus Christ — in knowing him, in loving him, in imitating him.
So, I think this is the first reflection, and essential, in our Christian life, that we can reflect on or think about in today’s passage of the Gospel. And then the next step is what this means in practice for all of us.
It seems to me the one thing that is obvious, also, is that we need to continue to reflect more on the life of Jesus — reading the Gospel. And trying to put into practice in our daily life what we are reading. Just the minimum that we can do is every Sunday when we come to Mass, we hear the passage of the Gospel. And there are beautiful teachings there that we need to put into practice.
So for us, it’s essential that we try to make that a reality in our personal lives. Like today, Jesus sums up all of his life in this new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.
Now, how did Jesus love? He showed his love for us by self-sacrifice — by his suffering and death on the Cross.
Jesus gave his life for the love of us. And he calls us — that’s the next step — to give our lives to others, to put ourselves in the service of others.
So Christian life — followers of Jesus Christ — Christian life is always sacrifice. Christian love always walks in the footsteps of the Lord Jesus — the footsteps that lead to the Cross.
It’s easy to talk about love and it’s easy to talk about trying to love one another, but the reality is that it’s challenging and it demands sacrifice.
That’s what, in the first reading of today’s Mass from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard those words from the apostles when they were talking to people about their lives.
It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the Kingdom of God.
That’s exactly what happens in our own lives. We know that love is not easy. It is challenging to really love in real life. But then at the same time when we reflect on what it is to love another, it’s exactly there when we find happiness.
Love is on the Cross. But there is joy in the Cross! There is joy that comes from serving others for the love of God! There is a joy in knowing that we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ, who gave his life out of love for us.
And we know that this is our mission. This is our Christian life — joy in serving others, loving one another.
That’s also the beautiful line at the end of the first reading of today’s Mass. When the apostles returned home: “and reported what God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.”
This is the beauty of Christian love. We are walking with Jesus Christ, we are working with God to build his Kingdom. Loving God and loving one another.
So today as we hear that Jesus is telling us: This is my commandment, love one another! Let us all ask for the grace, no matter what, to make it our reality in our daily life. Then we will hear, as we heard in the second reading of today’s Mass: Behold, I make all things new!
Everything will be different if really understand that loving God and one another gives meaning to our lives. So today, my dear brothers and sisters, let us ask Jesus to strengthen our commitment to follow Jesus, to walk with him.
And may Mary our Blessed Mother intercede for us, that we may love one another as Jesus has loved us.