by Lisa Fernandes

Love is the focus of today’s readings. Jesus starting in Mark 12:28 states that love of God and love of one’s neighbour are of utmost importance. In the Bible, there are four types of love identified: storge (empathy), philia (friendship), eros (erotic) and agape (God’s unconditional love). It is this unconditional love from God that is discussed today.

In the first reading, we read about Gentiles being given the gift of the Holy Spirit. As the Holy Spirit is God by extension they are being given the gift of love.

In the second reading we are asked to: “…love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” (1 John 4.7-8)
Love is such an important part of the Bible that Pope Benedict’s first encyclical called Deus Caritas Est (God is Love) dealt with love, and Pope Francis referred to it in Feb 2016 on its 10th anniversary when he said: “God does not simply have the desire or capacity to love; God is love: charity is his essence, it is his nature.”

God’s love is unconditional; his love is very different from the love we often experience with one another because it is not based on feelings. He doesn’t love us because we please him. He loves us simply because He is love.

This theme of unconditional love for one another continues in the Gospel where Jesus asks us to love one another as he loves us: “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” (John 15.12-13)

By asking us to love one another as God loves us, he is setting out a high standard of love. Recent events have made me realize that perhaps that standard is reachable. In the recent tragedy on Yonge St, strangers showed love for the victims of the van rampage as they lay injured in the street; many rushed to the aid of people they did not even know. And as the first reading tells us, the love of God is for all nations. And both the victims and the Good Samaritans in this tragedy represented the diversity of nations that live in Toronto: “…God shows not partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.” (Acts 10.34-35)

In the parable of the Good Samaritan, Jesus teaches us what love of neighbour is. We have just seen an example of how this can be real.

Sunday’s Readings:
Acts 10.25-26, 34-35, 44-48
Psalm 98
1 John 4.7-10
John 15.9-17