Sixth Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
1 John 4:7–10
John 15:9–17

The first reading from Acts in today’s Mass is part of a discussion about whether or not Gentiles (or ‘pagans’ as translated in the lectionary) could be included in the new Christian community that was emerging in the early years after the death and resurrection of Jesus.  The first members of this community were the disciples and followers of Jesus and were mostly Jewish.  It is worth reading the whole of chapter 10 of Acts to appreciate the story.

Peter comes to the conclusion that ‘God does not have any favourites, but anyone of any nationality who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him.’  We understand ‘fear of God’ as being in awe and wonder of God rather than being afraid.  ‘Fearing God and doing what is right’ echoes the Jewish teaching that the most important commandments are to love God (Deuteronomy 6:4–5) and to love our neighbour (Leviticus 19:18).

This sets the tone for the other readings at today’s Mass.  The word ‘love’ appears nine times in the second reading and nine times in the Gospel.  We hear about God’s love for us, our love for God, and our love for each other, even to the extent of laying down our life for our friends.

Jesus considers us, his followers, as his friends, and we are chosen by him to bear fruit that will last and to love one another – what a great responsibility!

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