24th April – Fifth Sunday of Easter (C)

IF YOU WERE ARRESTED FOR BEING A CHRISTIAN, WOULD THERE BE ENOUGH Jesus-washing-feet-02EVIDENCE TO CONVICT YOU? is an interesting rhetorical question to consider. It is basically enquiring of our commitment level to the faith.

If we attend Mass every Sunday and Holy Day, that should be enough to get us into serious trouble with the court. Living according to the Ten Commandments, especially those commandments that are highly counter-cultural, should get us into trouble too. If the police were to raid our homes, would they find evidence like a Sacred Heart picture and red lamp in the living room or say a holy water font by the front door? Would they find rosary beads in our pockets or hanging from the rear view mirror of our cars?

However, the gold standard test for our Christianity is given by Jesus in today’s gospel:

‘I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.’

A few points are worth noting:

  • The love of Jesus for us is demonstrated in his washing of the feet during the Last Supper. In Hebrew culture this was such an act of self-abasement that it could not be forced upon a (paid) servant – but only a slave. It was like a command to change a messy diaper. This pointed to Jesus’ self-giving, self-sacrificing death on Good Friday when he offered his life to make atonement for our sins.
  • This commandment takes us way beyond the Old Testament version: Love your neighbour as yourself. We are called to be pro-active and self-sacrificing like we saw in the life of Sr Clare Crockett (see blog of April 22nd). The corporal and spiritual works of mercy are means to this end. http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10198d.htm
  • The love of Jesus is non-violent and even embraces the love of enemies as he teaches in the Sermon on the Mount. At the time of his arrest in Gethsemanae, he rebuked Peter for the use of the sword and re-attached the severed ear of the high priest’s servant. On the cross, he prayed ‘Father forgive them for they know not what they do’ – this in spite of the terrible tortures inflicted during his Passion.