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05/19/19 Fifth Sunday in Easter - Deacon Tony

Deacon Tony Conti

Fifth Sunday of Easter Year C, Cycle I

Lectionary: 54

  • From today’s Gospel: “...I give you a new commandment: love one another.  As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
  • This command appears nine separate times in the Gospel of John…
  • Loving others doesn’t require us to deny our human emotions and feelings…
  • Our feelings and emotions aren’t bad in and of themselves – It’s what we do with them that matters...
    • Loving others means that regardless of how we may feel about someone, we treat them with the same dignity and respect that we wish to be treated...
    • It means that we would never wish anyone harm, despite how we may feel about them...
    • It means that we would never withhold forgiveness to someone who sincerely asks for our pardon...
    • It means that we can show and feel compassion for all who may be suffering in any situation...
  • The love that Jesus asks of us is more than a feeling or emotion – It’s a choice and a decision – A choice and a decision that requires discipline, commitment, and courage
  • The discipline to keep our emotions from dictating our behavior toward another… the commitment to always choose love over fear… and the courage to risk revealing part of ourselves to another
  • The love that Jesus calls us to is not possible without connecting with others
  • When we make the effort to connect with someone on some level, it focuses us on our common humanity rather than on our differences...and that’s what’s really important if we’re to love as Jesus commands us to love... 
  • There’s one inviolable rule that Jesus taught us through the example of His life: That we must risk being hurt in order to love
  • Living a full and meaningful life isn’t possible without taking the risk to love...
  • And taking the risk to love isn’t possible unless we have the courage to share our true selves with others…
  • And sharing our true selves to others makes us vulnerable
  • None of this means that we freely share our innermost selves with everyone we meet… But neither does it mean that we remain closed and isolated from the world for fear of being hurt…
  • Jesus connected with people... he ate with them, laughed with them... wept with them... He related to others by freely sharing Himself with them
  • Personal connections are not possible unless we choose to share some of ourselves with another… and sharing ourselves with another always makes us vulnerable
  • Loving others as Jesus asks us to love is not possible unless we allow ourselves to become vulnerable
  • Brene’ Brown wrote: “Vulnerability is the birthplace of love, belonging, joy, courage, empathy, accountability, and authenticityLove is uncertainIt’s incredibly risky. And loving someone leaves us emotionally exposed.  Yes it’s scary and yes, we’re open to being hurt, but can you imagine your life without loving or being loved?”  (Daring Greatly, Pg. 34.)
  • Vulnerability isn’t about weakness… It’s about courage
  • It’s is about having the courage to be authentic
  • It’s about learning to be comfortable in our own skin
  • It’s about learning to love ourselves first (as God loves us), so that we’re no longer afraid to reveal to the world who we truly are
  • We live in a constant tension between trying to allow ourselves to become more vulnerable and more authentic, while also maintaining the hardness that we perceive as necessary to survive in what we refer to as the real world...
  • We’re often susceptible to the lie that we’re somehow inadequate, or lacking, or substandard in some way…
  • We need to be reminded over and over that we’re all made in the image and likeness of God… and that we lack nothing
  • Each of us has unique gifts meant just for us and no one else… No human being lacks gifts… And our gifts are meant to be shared by connecting with others…
  • There’s always a balance to be struck between head and heart... Following neither one in excess, but rather; in proportion to the Grace given to us in the moment...
  • It’s when we lose this balance that we can find it difficult to connect with others...
  • It’s all too easy to let potential criticism or the threat of the judgment of others urge us back into our protective shells…
  • The question for all of us is this: Can we muster the courage and ask for the Grace to be truly free, to risk ridicule, judgment, and scorn as Jesus did?
  • Isn’t Jesus telling us through the example of His life that choosing to love is worth the risk of disapproval and rejection?
  • Isn’t He telling us that the price is even higher if we refuse to allow love into our lives…
  • We’re called to give ourselves freely to others as Jesus did...
  • We do this by taking the time to get to know them better, by making them feel comfortable in our presence...
  • This is how we’re continually transformed, and this is how we can begin to transform others... by tearing down the walls that isolate us from God, and from each other...
  • I’ll close with a quote from Brennan Manning wrote: “The rhythm of relentless tenderness in the Rabbi’s heart makes loving: terribly personal, terribly immediate, and terribly urgent.  He says, “I give you a new commandment; it is My commandment; it is all I command you: Love one another as I have loved you.”  Only compassion and forgiveness countLove is the key to everything.  The Rabbi implores, “Don’t you understand that discipleship is not about being right or being perfect, or being efficient?  It’s all about the way you live with each other.” In every encounter we either give life or we drain it.  There is no neutral exchange.” (Abba’s Child Pgs 164-165).

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