Dear Followers of the Risen Christ,
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, we listen to John 13:31-33a. In this simple passage, Jesus offers a deep and passionate invitation to love one another. This command harkens back to the Last Supper, when Jesus surrounded himself with his disciples, washed their feet, and offered them his Real Presence in bread and wine— a new covenant, a new way of life, a new purpose on this side of the grave. He offers a new way of seeing the world, a new way to respect the dignity of people and reveal hope to those most in need. Love never fades.
A new commandment: Love one another. I am always heartened in the Easter season that the images of Jesus are ones of consolation, healing, tenderness, and abundance. He offered his invitation of peace when he first met his disciples after the resurrection. There was an abundance of fish and new life as he met Peter and others at the seashore. The image of “shepherd” is one of great consolation, since we know he chases down sinners and embraces the lost. A new commandment is offered this week, a reflection of what his life on earth and his risen life amid the disciples means to us. I believe with my entire being that he still wants the best for us. He still views his life as a source of love for sinners and for us, who are so slow to listen to his voice and discover his love.
This new covenant is also about what Jesus left us, the Eucharist. His Real Presence is true food, true love, and true forgiveness. There is love in the food and hope for those who share it. We gather, not in private devotion, but in community that aches for such life and love. We feast on his Real Presence in bread and wine. His Body and Blood become a source of eternal life for us who follow his ways. We still gather, after all these centuries, to find the source of love around a table of love. We belong to him. He is our way of life, our commitment toward justice, our way of hope even in sorrow and loss.
As we approach the Eucharist today, may we realize that love is in our food. In receiving the Body and Blood of Christ, may we respond with intention and vigor. Allow our “Amen” to echo across the church building, creating a space under our roof where we know justice can flourish and hope will have a home. How will you find joy and freedom in the Eucharist this day?
Today, we also welcome our children to the Table of the Lord who will receive the Eucharist for the first time at Sacred Heart. I am deeply heartened by our young ones who have studied, prayed, and prepared to welcome Jesus into their lives and actions in a deeper way. I appreciate the parents who have prepared their children for this sacrament. Please know of my prayer for all receiving Eucharist for the first time and their families in these beautiful days of the Easter season.
Today, our children make an incredible commitment. I pray they may always be hungry for God. I pray they may rely on the gift of love no matter what happens in their lives in the future. I pray they may connect their prayer and their service to the weak and suffering. On this day, our children are preparing for their future, and I pray they may always feel welcomed in the church, no matter the events of their lives.
The Eucharist creates integrity in our search for God. We approach the Altar knowing the source of our lives, Jesus Christ. In his love and mission, we find ourselves open to harmony and hope. We find our place in the heart of Jesus Christ.
“This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
God give you peace,
Fr. Ron Raab, CSC, Pastor