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Fifth Sunday of Easter

May 15, 2022
Sister Mary Glenn, OSB shares a reflection on the scripture readings: Acts 14:21-
27; Revelation 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35

Today’s Gospel takes us back to the night before Jesus died and his last words to
his followers. Jesus has washed the feet of the disciples and told them that they
should do the same. Then Jesus is troubled in spirit because he knows one of
them will betray him and the disciples in turn are troubled because they can’t
imagine who it might be. Judas receives the piece of bread from Jesus who tells
him to “do quickly what you are going to do” so he immediately goes. And it was
night.

I find it helpful to keep this setting in mind when meditating on the next words
Jesus says: “Now is the Son of Man glorified and God is glorified in him.” The word
“glory” is used six times in this pronouncement. The gospel writer, John, tends to
overstate his case in his desire that we understand what is going on here. Only
through betrayal and death does Jesus enter the glory of God.

The other truth that Jesus makes clear in this scene is that we now have a new
commandment which is to love one another. The “new” in this command is the
phrase “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” “As I have loved you” is the tough part. Am I willing to lay down my life for my friends, let alone for my enemies?

The concluding conversation in Chapter 13 is the one where Peter declares that
he will lay down his life for Jesus and we know how that turned out.
If we keep in our imaginations the scene with Judas and the one with Peter, the
words of Jesus that “Now is the Son of Man glorified” should knock us over. How
does betrayal and denial lead God to “glorify the Son with God’s own glory?”
It is this mystery that we celebrate during the Easter Season.

One way into this mystery are the other words of Jesus that we must love one
another. “This is how all will know you are my disciples, if you have love for one
another.” St. Paul’s insight help us here: that even if we did “understand all
mysteries and all knowledge” it counts for nothing if we don’t have love. (1
Corinthians 13:2)

This is another theme in John’s gospel where he gets repetitious. In Chapter 15,
still at the Last Supper setting, Jesus says again “This is my commandment: Love
one another as I have loved you. No one can have greater love than this: to lay
down one’s life for those one loves.” (John 15:12-13) Again in verse 17 “This I
command you: Love one another.”

If this reflecting on the mystery of God’s glory through suffering and the challenge
of trying to love as Jesus did seems a bit heavy, we have the other two readings
for some relief. In Acts Paul and Barnabas continue their everyday work of
proclaiming the good news and encouraging the disciples, just we do daily
whatever work God has entrusted to us.

And in Revelation John paints a glorious picture of a new heaven and a new earth
where we will truly love everyone as we are destined to do.

Let us continue our celebration of the good news of this Easter Season.