Third Sunday of Easter
Loving in obedience
Points to note
The second reading in all the Sundays of Easter in Year B is from the first letter of St John. John is the only one of the Twelve who was not martyred and lived to a ripe old age of over ninety. At the end of his life, John was exiled to an island where it was said he had all the time to reflect on and to understand the manifestation of God as love. Little wonder that the tone of his letter is very much on the themes of love and God.
To John, Jesus left us with only one commandment, the commandment to love (Jn 15:12). This is discussed much more in depth in Easter 6, where in both the second and the Gospel readings, St John culminates his teaching on these twin themes. As such, the next few Sundays are part of a short journey to that understanding in Easter 6.
In each Sunday, John wants us to understand that we cannot love without God and, if we have God, we cannot do anything but love. We start off with the idea, therefore, of obedience in this reading, followed by the ownership of God over us and God’s expectation from us of this ownership in the next few Sundays.
When discussing the concept of love, it is easy to lose focus and end up with very broad ideas instead. It is critical to anchor the discussions on very concrete examples of action and the daily life events that children understand. If possible, end up with commitments from the children on how they should make real in their lives what they have heard in the readings.
There is no the Gospel Acclamation as the Gospel is not read. For the same reason, there is no opening dialogue.
Explain to the children that John was probably the youngest of the Twelve Apostles, the only one not to be martyred and that he lived to a ripe old age. In the Gospel he wrote, he always referred to himself as the beloved disciple. So, this must really very much be someone who have felt the loving power of Jesus and knows he is loved by God. The story goes that when he was teaching his own disciples at the end of his life, he was asked by one of them why he always talked to them about love and nothing else. John stared out into the distance for a while and replied, “Because there is nothing else … but love … love … and love.”
A Reading from the first letter of St John
(1Jn 2: 1-5)
I am writing this, my children, to stop you sinning;
but if anyone should sin, we have an advocate with the Father,
Jesus Christ, who is just;
he is the sacrifice who takes our sins away,
not only ours, but the whole world’s.
we can be sure that we know God only by keeping his commandments.
Anyone who says “I know him”, and does not keep his commandments,
Is a liar, refusing to admit the truth.
But when anyone does obey what he has said,
God’s love comes in perfection in him.
This is the Word of the Lord
Is there anyone among us who is perfect? Discuss the idea of perfection and only God is perfect. Is there any among us who sometimes wished that we have done something that we omitted to do or wished that we did not do something that we did? You may wish to allow to children to talk about mistakes they made. Gently weed out those mistakes that are merely incorrect (eg., giving an incorrect answer in a test) from those that are wrong (wrong from a moral angle). Such wrongs are sins.
Point out that often when we do a wrong, someone else has warned us against it. When we end up fighting with our brother or sister, Mom would surely have warned us against it. So, when we do a wrong, it is often an act of disobedience against someone. That is why when we fight with our brother, it is not just our brother who is upset with us, but Mom too. That is why when we fight with our brother, it is not just our brother who we have to make up with, but Mom too.
Expand it to the idea of sin. God is very much a parent in our whole Christian family, very much like Mom in our little family at home. When we sin, even if it is against someone else, it is a disobedience against God. Both God and that someone else are upset with us and we have to apologise to both God and that someone else. Therefore if we say we want to be obedient to God, we cannot sin against anyone else too, not just God.
Illustrate these points using events from children daily lives. I always find fighting with our brother a good example but there many countless more.