Homily for the Vigil of the Fifth Sunday of Easter
Rite of Oblation
by Judith Sutera, OSB
April 27, 2013
Readings: Hosea 14: 2-10; John 13:31-33a, 34-35
The readings for the Sundays of Easter begin, understandably, with stories of the post-Resurrection appearances of Jesus, when he seems to pop up in the middle of a number of ordinary moments with his message of peace and reassurance. Then, as the season progresses, there is a shift to incidents from before the paschal events. This week it is John's gospel of the new commandment, which really isn't new at all.
After his resurrection, Jesus helped the disciples to see the meaning of certain scripture passages that they were unable to understand before. So too are we asked to hit rewind and have some "Oh, now I get it" moments. In our liturgical calendar, we will soon commemorate the second departure of Jesus from the earth, and he seems in no particular hurry to return again. Therefore, we have to look back on what he said while he was here in order to know what we are supposed to do in the meantime. His parting instruction is that we are to love one another as he and God have loved each one of us.
This can be a tall order. St. Benedict puts it another way when he asks his disciples to welcome everyone as Christ. Some are certainly easier to love than others. It is often easier to welcome the stranger and the poor than it is to feel loving thoughts about the people who are more permanently in our lives and with whom we have an ongoing history. When we love one another, we recognize Christ's love for that other, and we love Christ by our actions towards that other.
It's easy to forget sometimes that someone else may be having difficulty loving me and seeing Christ in my behavior. For our vigil liturgy, tomorrow's gospel has been paired with a reading from Hosea that reminds us what real love does. God reaches out to the sinful and the stumbling. As I look around this chapel, I see an amazing array of personalities. One only has to read the biographies of our eight oblate candidates to see an incredible diversity of journeys and struggles and calls to holiness. Yet, for some reason and perhaps by some miracle, we have been brought here to this community to love one another. None of us is here to rest because we’re perfect. Not one of us is here as a reward for having loved enough. We are here because God wants us to be loved and loving and he and we have the belief that this community is a context in which that can happen.
Jesus refers to God being glorified in him; Benedict says our goal is that in all things God may be glorified. So the desire to forgive and love and keep turning, the daily "conversatio, "is how God is glorified. Striving towards greater love--in every act and every moment--is to be our focus and our task. This is the way we will live out our Christian commitment and our monastic commitment. "In this all will know you are my disciples." In this will the world know also that we are St. Benedict and Scholastica's disciples. In this will the world know that we are the women and men of Mount St. Scholastica.
As promised to Hosea, the loved and forgiven, the wise who have turned to God will be nourished and will blossom and bear fruit. With grateful hearts, we will leave this year of celebration of 150 years and go forward with hope into the next 150 years. In this will the world know that as long as there is love, the risen Christ is among us, and God's promise to remain and fluorish in and through his people is alive and well.