John 15:9-17, Sixth Sunday of Easter
That’s Latin for “where” as ubique is Latin for “everywhere”. I must confess that there are times when the evening sky makes me wonder about the where-ness of us and the where-ness of God. The universe seems to be everywhere and we, well, nowhere.
Even on my lap, in the galactic maze that is the internet, with the ubiquity of information and ideas and all sorts of stimuli, it is easy to lose our bearings, to lose our way and ourselves, and yes, to lose even God. How do we know where we are and where we are going when the constellations are in flux and the ground beneath us is heaving?
In a world of increasing hyperconnection, we find ourselves in a Babel of division and disconnection. Confused about our coordinates, we ask, where are we, where is God?
We know we are lost when we have lost our reverence for language and the truth. We sense we have strayed when we have lost our respect for the value and dignity of one another. We know we are adrift when we have idolized nothing but icons of ourselves. Tragically, we are lost when we no longer even know or care we are lost.
There is a way however to recover our bearings again. John suggests, in his letter to us today, that if we have lost ourselves, if we have lost God, it is because we have lost love. Once we lose love, we misplace ourselves. When we fail to love, we dislocate God as well. And so he entreats us:
“Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.”
We only need to open our lives to love again if we are to realize who and where we are. We only have to get up to love again if we are to know who God is and where he might be found.
From the readings today, we can discern at least three qualities of this love that brings us back home to God: a love that is impartial (or borderless or expansive); a love that is merciful (or redemptive); and a love that is fruitful, bearing more than just the warmth of words and feelings.
In the first reading, Peter says something radical about God: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” Thus, the Jewish converts are “astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also.” Imagine the healing this kind of impartial and inclusive love can bring in this time of cultural isolation and division.
In the second reading, we discover how radical God’s love is for us: “God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” The love that locates us is the love that is merciful and patient, a love that incarnates atonement and redemption in our reception of each other, in the likeness of the heart of Jesus Christ who is the heart of God.
The Gospel today sends us to love one another with a love that bears fruit, a love that returns and multiplies love many times over. More than just a feeling or profession of words, such a love is gladly received and given away. It is a love that challenges us and prunes us, so that we no longer see ourselves and each other as slaves, but as friends. “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain.”
Beloved, let us then love one another with a love that is impartial and merciful and fruitful. The nearness of God is found in the nearness of such a love. Let us love each other then because that is how we get to come close to God and that is how God gets to come close to us.
Ubi caritas et amor, Deus ibi est. Where there is charity and love, there is God. We can search the universe or the internet all night long, but only love can answer the where-ness of us and the where-ness of God.
*From “God’s Word Today”, Philippine Sta
**image from the Internet