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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, April 28, 2013

By Jean Denton
Catholic News Service


April 28, Fifth Sunday of Easter

Cycle C. Readings:

1) Acts 14:21-27

Psalm 145:8-13

2) Revelation 21:1-5a

Gospel) John 13:31-33a, 34-35

This weekend's Gospel offers one of Jesus' final instructions to his disciples: "As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Further, he explained, they would be known as his followers by their love for others.

Father Jack, a parish priest, certainly was such a disciple.

I'd heard about Father Jack for years before I ever met him. To hear them tell it, he was the best friend of everybody in the church I attended. He wasn't even their parish priest. He was a former pastor. But it sounded like he was continually returning to officiate at a wedding, baptize a baby or attend a retirement party.

I wondered how he could fulfill this role as everybody's family priest while also managing duties at his own parish. Later I learned that people in his other previous parishes also had this same sense that they were his favorite friends.

I figured, wow, this guy is slick.

But a friend of mine, one of his former staff ministers, assured me Father Jack was the genuine article. She explained that this special gift he had of being fully present to people always carried the unmistakable message that Jesus loved them.

When I finally met him, I saw it myself: All those people who thought they were his most valued friends? They were correct. Father Jack knew them intimately and loved them dearly. He remembered their families as his own.

The first time I talked to him was after a funeral for one of his beloved former parishioners. He had driven four hours across the state to be there. He wasn't the celebrant. He simply wanted to be with the family.

After retiring, he continued to joyfully serve and minister to the faithful he loved. Loving as Jesus did sometimes includes hard choices, and, unfortunately, Father Jack's compassion for people and their situations sometimes led him to stretch the rules of the church to which he also was committed. When he was officially removed from public ministry, although he understood the decision, he grieved.

In offering words of consolation, my friend reminded him that he was still, as always, a good disciple. Nothing, she said, will ever stop you from continuing to spread your message to people that Jesus loves them.

QUESTIONS:

What does it mean to love as Jesus loved? In what circumstances have you found it difficult to love others as Jesus has loved you?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"I give you a new commandment: love one another." -- John 13:34

END



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