6th Sunday of Easter (Note & Bulletin)

When I became Pastor of St Annie’s in Jamaica I was warned about a difficult person who was not well liked by the others members of the church. She knew this and so she would do things to try to irritate them even more. One of her best techniques was to sing during the Prayers of the Faithful. The more it bothered people, the longer her song. While she would sing you could hear some of the people making noises to express their exasperation and frustration. At one Mass I realized that their frustration was growing, so I decided I had to do something about it. When Mass was finished, I asked Sr Beverley to take the woman outside the church and for the congregation to remain in their seats. As a scripturally based people, I asked them some questions from a bible verse. I said to them, “I need your help. Did St Paul say love is patient or love is impatient? Did St Paul say that love is kind or that love is unkind?” And they all replied, patient and kind. So I said, “It’s clear – if we are Christians, then we must be patient and kind.” In other words, we need to walk the talk (as an aside, I later spoke with the woman and asked her to sing only one verse and not the whole song).

As Christians the most damaging thing we can do to our faith is when we separate the faith we profess from the lives we live. In this week’s Gospel, Jesus is making clear that followers of his are not to live divided lives. He says “The one who has my commandments and keeps them is the one who loves me.” This means that there is an unbreakable relationship between the faith in our hearts and the words and actions we express. The Christian life has often been reduced to behaviour, that is, being a Christian means following Christian morality. Such a belief short-changes the Christian faith. Without our hearts involved, it’s like we’re playing pretend.

In the Second Reading, St. Peter writes, “In your hearts sanctify Christ as Lord.” And if Christ is sanctified in our hearts then in our hearts his love is received and his love grows. And as he grows within us we simply become more like him. We become more like him through a transforming and redeeming grace, not by following morality more strictly. We don’t want to be impatient or unkind. We don’t want to be judgmental or selfish. We don’t want to be unloving and unforgiving. And we don’t want to be these things because these things are not who we are. Rather, we are who Peter calls us, that is, the beloved. If we are loved then it means we are loving. Relying on his grace, we seek our faith and our lives to be ever more united, so that one day they will be one. And so Church, let every word we speak, let every action we do, let how we love, let how we believe be through his heart.

God Bless and Take Care!
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