We’ve just passed the mid-point of the Easter Season, and so we gently turn our sights from the accounts of the resurrection. Today’s passage from the Acts of the Apostles ends so beautifully as it redirects our thinking. “The Church throughout Judea, Galilee, and Samaria was at peace. It was being built up and walked in the fear of the Lord, and with the consolation of the Holy Spirit it grew in numbers.”
Like the early Church community, there’s an inner peace that seems to caress our hearts during these fifty days between Easter and Pentecost. It’s the Spirit breathing in us, revitalizing our love, drawing us ever more deeply into the mystery of the resurrected Christ, the mystery of Christ Love.
Saint Paul speaks of the power of Christ Love in his letter to the Galatians. “All of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.” (Galatians 3: 27-28) Christ Love breaks down all the barriers that separate us from one another and from God.
We’re living in a dangerous time of hostile divisions. It seems the world is functioning on the principle of “Them and Us.” The rise in xenophobia, the global refugee crisis, the tribal battles in the Middle East, Africa and Asia, the rise of populist movements, the tensions between conservatives and liberals, the loathing between Democrats and Republicans, the continual struggle for equal rights for women are all part of the hostile energy that has gripped the world. As followers of Jesus we face a daunting challenge today. Whenever we’re confronted by this dark energy of division, we’re called to respond with Christ Love.
We must constantly keep in mind what Jesus taught us in the Sermon on the Mount, “You have heard it said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your heavenly Father. (Matthew 5: 43-45)
Today more then ever, we need to hear Jesus’ call to love. We have to be so very strong because Christ Love demands heroic strength and commitment. It’s a love we can’t achieve by ourselves. It’s a sacrificial love. It’s a redemptive love. It’s a love that’s totally new. To love as Jesus loved we must empty ourselves of ego and false love that only nourish division, and set us against one another. It’s Christ Love that we want pumping through our veins so that we can battle against the dark energy of division.
Today’s Gospel passage reminds us that Jesus is the vine. We’re the branches on that vine, living with him, and in him, and through him. He asks us to take up his mission, to “set the earth on fire.” He encourages us, and he reminds us, “Whoever remains in me and I in him will bear much fruit.” Jesus asks us to surrender our hearts to Christ Love.