The Fifth Sunday of Easter


By Emily VanBerkum

From the first reading, it is clear that Paul and Barnabas were busy missionaries, creating what John described as a “home for God among humans.” But what motivated this missionary activity- and fertile soil in which the presence of God could be felt and enlivened by early Christians- is Jesus’ simple yet powerful command to “love one another, just as I have loved you.” How do we begin loving the other in this awesome, all consuming Christ-like way?

Lately, I have been thinking about this invitation to love as Christ modeled for us in relation to Pope Francis’ most recent Apostolic Exhortation Amoris Laetitia. For Pope Francis, influenced by Jesuit Spirituality, the joy of love is most clearly reflected in the art of prayerful decision-making known as “discernment.” In his article “Discernment: A Key to Amoris Laetitia,” Fr. James Martin, S.J. explains that for a person of faith, discernment is the “ability to see clearly what our inner forces are; to be able to identify, weigh and judge them; and to choose the path most in line with God’s desires for you and for the world.” To me, the connection between discernment and love is clear: Let God into your life! Try to understand the way your heart responds to God’s movements in various aspects of your life whether it be within your family, friendships, romantic relationships, workplaces, etc. Include God in your daily thought process regarding the big decisions in your life and see how God is present to you. I guarantee that at some moments in your life, God’s presence will be clearly felt, other times it may not be. But that is why discerning with the heart is a lifelong process, a dismantling of the ego, in which we surrender to God and submit to something so utterly beyond us.

Sunday’s Readings: Acts 14.21b-27; Revelation 21.1-5a; John 13.1, 31-33a, 34-35

About the Homepage Image:  The Morning of the Resurrection 1886 by Sir Edward Coley Burne-Jones, Bt 1833-1898