We live in an age that prides itself on its rational approach to life.
- We like to count, measure and compare things … and people.
- We like to create statistical comparisons, whether they make sense, or not.
- We value those who are able to take the ‘personal’ out of their way of seeing the world.
- We celebrate the objective, and we denigrate the subjective.
We live in an age that prides itself on being distanced from God!
The way in which the world around us works highlights just how counter-cultural Jesus’ message is to those who are so firmly rooted in the secular world that presses in on every side.
Jesus speaks of love … surely, there is nothing more subjective in our human experience.
Peter speaks of sharing the gift of baptism with all, and not just the selected few … another subjective and counter-cultural concept … an idea that challenges the exclusivity and ‘specialness’ of the select few!
We live in an age that prides itself on its detached and rational approach to life … we live in an age that prides itself on being distanced from God!
But … what about those who cannot and will not accept this distancing from God?
What about those who do wish to keep God’s commandments and abide in his love?
What about those who do wish to share the gift of baptism with all?
We are living through strange times, and I am not just referring to the situation we have had to endure for the last year or so!
We are living through an age where humanity, through the good grace and power of God, has developed its intellectual capacity to such an extent that it truly believes it can control every aspect of its own destiny.
This sense of self-determination has led many into the blind alley of unbelief and uncertainty.
Whatever issues we consider to be the most critical in our world, and whatever solutions may seem obvious to us from the comfort of our armchairs, the ‘world-centric’ way in which humanity is conducting its affairs seems to have set it on a collision course with disaster.
We are living through a dystopian parody of the life God intended for humanity when he formed human beings in his own image.
In today’s readings we are being offered an agenda of two basic principles that could put an end to the chaos we are living through … but they demand courageous determination if they are to work!
Jesus speaks of keeping God’s commandments and abiding in his love … a love which saw him endure the most brutal of deaths for the benefit of the whole of humanity.
Peter, the one who was by Jesus’ side throughout his adult ministry, picks up this theme in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles by teaching that baptism … becoming one of the community of faith … should be available for all.
The common thread in these two statements is ‘love’ …
- agape … the love which is unconditional and welcoming …
- and most certainly not philautia … the love which is obsessed with self.
Our reading from John’s gospel spells it out for us … Jesus no longer calls us ‘servants’, rather, he says: I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father.
Jesus … the one who was with God at the very beginning of all things … has shared the Word of God with humanity … the human race which he has identified … in both his humanity and his divinity … as his ‘friends’ … the very friends for whom he laid down his life.
Jesus was not driven by our modern obsession with computation and measurement!
Jesus was driven by a divine love for God’s most wonderful creation.
We are called to emulate that divine love in the way we live out our lives, as individuals and as members of our wider society.
And … as we emulate that divine love … we need to stop creating holy cliques and clubs for ourselves … we need to fling open the doors of our hearts and minds and share the agape … that most open and generous of loves … with all.
And … we need to espouse another type of love … xenia … the type of love which can be seen in our hospitality towards others, both friend and foe.
The opposite of xenia is, of course, xenophobia … an irrational and total rejection of those who are different from ourselves.
When our calculating way of viewing the world dominates, xenophobia reigns supreme, and we close down our capacity to share God’s love … sometimes we even distort the message of Jesus Christ to justify our withholding of the great gift of baptism from others!
Jesus said: As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.
Let us pray for the strength to use our God-given gift for counting, comparing and measuring for the preservation and treasuring of God’s wonderful creation, but …
Let us also pray that we may never value those objective skills over God’s call to love with the openness and completeness we see modelled in the life, death and resurrection of our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.