Fifth Sunday in Easter
“People will know that you are my disciples”
Points to note
We have been marked with the sign of Christ at our baptism. In fact, we have not only been baptised in the name of Christ, we have been baptised with the name of Christ. After our baptism, we carry the name of Christ with us and people call us Christian. We express this mark with which Christ marked us by adhering to the great commandment of Jesus.
It is often forgotten that Jesus did not leave us many commandments. In Jn, he left us only one: this one to love one another. Everything else is secondary. There is a story that John, when he was exiled to an island in his old age, was asked by his students why he spoke about nothing else but love. The disciple who had half a century to reflect on the teachings that he learnt while leaning on the breast of Jesus, looked into the distance and replied, “Because there is nothing else but love, and love, and love.”
I do have an axe to grind with the Church for changing the old name of Maundy Thursday to Holy Thursday. I felt that in doing so, we lost the meaning of that feast. Many Catholics believe the feast commemorates the institution of the Eucharist, but the Gospel reading is not on the Eucharist. Maundy comes from the Latin word, mandatum, which means commandment. So, Maundy Thursday was the night of the Great Commandment and the commandment is to love. Thus, Holy Thursday should remind us of Jesus injunction to us to love.
It is important to emphasise that being a Christian means that we have to let people know that we are Christian. This Sunday’s reading, therefore, follows on from that of last Sunday.
Acclamation before the Gospel
Jesus said: “I give you a new commandment:
love one another, just as I have loved you.”
The Lord be with you.
All: And also with you.
A Reading from the Holy Gospel according to St John
All: Glory to you O Lord
When Judas had gone Jesus said:
“My little children,
I shall not be with you much longer.
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.”
This is the Gospel of the Lord
All: Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ
Last week, we talked about our names. When did we get our names? At our baptism. You may wish to ask all the children one by one what their parents replied when the priest asked their parents. ‘What name do you wish to name this child?’ This way, too, you can remind yourself the names of the children. And the children like it too.
Do you know that we got another name at our baptism? That of Christ: after our baptism, people call us Christians. Remind the children that this is our form of branding like sheep get branded to identify them as belonging to one particular shepherd. In the same way, people have to identify us as belonging to Christ.
Discuss how people will know that we are Christians. One way is that we show that we love each other within our Christian family. Discuss how we could do this: start with the family at home and how we do not do things that others could say is non-Christians. We should also not fight when we come to Church.
But these are the negative things; what about the more positive ones. We should be helping out at home more often. Give signs of love to our family: hugs, etc.. At church, we could help out as well. Some people do: servers, choir for instance.
Discuss also about those who managed to show others their Christianity by the things that they do outside. For instance, those who teaches and does good deeds, etc. Basically, those who follow God’s commandments are good Christians.
from this one. As long as we follow this one commandment, people will know that we belong to Jesus.
Note that this is the only commandment that Jesus gave: “I give you a new commandment”. Discuss what the children could do to show that we love.
Discuss what loving actually means. Emphasise that love is not something we do but love is something that makes us to something. So, the proof that we love is not so much what we do (yes, that is important but …) but why we do it. We could end up doing the same thing but if it comes from a different motivation other than love, then we don’t have love.
You can run through a few examples. If someone helps a rich man but he is hoping the rich man would reward him: is that love? If someone gives to charity but it is because she wants everyone else to see that she is generous: is that love? If someone follows all the Ten Commandments but it is because he wants God to take him to heaven: is it love? Is it that he loves his salvation more than he loves Jesus?
Unlike some other religions or sects who take a literal reading of their scriptures, we Catholics look beyond the words of the Bible and likewise we look beyond the actions of what we do into the why we do.