My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
The Gospel passage we just heard is short reminds us that already five weeks have passed since Easter. In two weeks, we are going to be celebrating Our Lord’s Ascension into heaven. So in this Gospel today, Jesus is preparing us for his “going away.”
“I will be with you only a little while longer,” he says today. But before he leaves us, before he leaves this earth, Jesus has one final message he wants to teach us.
So it is important to listen to that today, especially for all you, my brothers and sisters, who will receive the Sacrament of Confirmation today. Because Jesus is telling us how to live, how to follow him. He is telling us the path to go.
And today is a great day for each one of you. You’re going to receive Holy Spirit in a sacramental way. The grace of the Sacrament of Confirmation. It is also special because we all are celebrating the Extraordinary Jubilee of Mercy called by Pope Francis, and as you receive Confirmation today, you are asked by the Church to be faithful to the teachings of Christ and at the same time you renew your decision to belong to the Catholic Church. To try to be faithful disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ — good Catholics.
So it’s special that today Jesus is giving to all of that beautiful message of how he wants us to live, to be his disciples.
And he says, in the Gospel today: “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Love, my dear brothers and sisters, is our purpose. Love is the reason we are born. Love is the way we are called to live.
And Jesus is asking us to love one another because he loves us first. Jesus can ask us to love because he has shown us the way: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”
Jesus died for us on the Cross. That’s the way he shows his love for us. He gives his own life to give us life. He raises up and saves us. Jesus dies for us and he lives for us now. That’s what he means when he says, “As I have loved you, you also should love one another.”
But love does not mean necessarily that we have to die on a Cross like Jesus, we all know that. And we also all know that there are many little ways in which we can show love everyday. Love is going to work and all the thing we need to do to get ready — simple things that we should do out of love — even just getting up early, going through LA traffic, that’s a big show of love isn’t it? Riding the bus, working hard and coming home with a smile on your face for your spouse, your kids, your family.
And love makes all things new. In that second reading today, from the Book of Revelation, we heard the words of Jesus: “Behold, I make all things new!”
This is what is new. This is the way of love, this is the new commandment. And this is our mission, our Christian mission.
The new commandment of love gives us a mission: to make the world new.
And that’s what Jesus is asking us to do, that’s what today — as you receive the Sacrament of Confirmation and renew your faith — you are called to do. And we all are called do in our Christian life. To love one another and to spread the good news of this new commandment.
We are being sent out just like those disciples we heard about in the first reading of today’s Mass: Paul, and Barnabas, and all the others. Jesus is sending us out like them — to open to the doors of faith for others, to help others to know Jesus and to believe in his love.
We know that that has to be done, not just with words but with deeds.
It is indeed a beautiful way to live. It is the way of the saints.
So today, let us ask for the grace in this Eucharist to follow Jesus on the path of love, the path of mercy. And that’s what this year, starting out a Jubilee of Mercy, is all about. Pope Francis tells us that the Church must be a credible witness to mercy, and he’s right.
That means that God’s mercy in our own lives must become a call for all of us to practice mercy towards others. To be merciful as our merciful Father — as our heavenly Father is merciful. So let’s ask for the grace to live by mercy.
So as you receive the Holy Spirit sacramentally today, ask for the grace to try to be conscious of living this new commandment, to love others as Jesus loves us. You can do it. We all can do it. And today especially because you have the gifts of the Holy Spirit that you are receiving today.
With an act of faith and the gifts of the Holy Spirit, you will be able to respond to Christ’s call to you.
It is a challenging call, but it is possible. If we trust in God’s love and mercy and we try to do that in little things everyday. Just imagine if every one of us is doing one act of love everyday, we would really change the world — starting with our own families, or communities, or city.
So let’s ask for that grace today. Let’s ask our Blessed Mother Mary to help us to be people of love. To love others as Jesus loves us, with a love that is joyful, with a love that is a way of service, of sacrifice, of making life better for others.
May Mary our Blessed Mother and St. Joseph intercede for us that we can really become missionaries of mercy.
1.Readings (Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C): Acts 14:21–27; Ps. 145:8–13; Rev. 21:1–5a; John 13:31–33a, 34–35.