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Where's The Love?

John 13:31-35

The Rev. Jon Roberts

24 April


Calvary Episcopal Church

Indian Rocks Beach, FL

31 When he had gone out, Jesus said, “Now is the Son of man glorified, and in him God is glorified; 32 if God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself, and glorify him at once. 33 Little children, yet a little while I am with you. You will seek me; and as I said to the Jews so now I say to you, ‘Where I am going you cannot come.’ 34 A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. 35 By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”


Peter’s Vision, Domenico Fetti, 1619

Where is the love?

A fine funeral was ordered for a woman who had henpecked her husband, drove her kids half nuts, scrapped with the neighbors at the slightest opportunity, and even made neurotics of the cat and dog with her explosive temper. As the urn was lowered into the grave, a violent thunderstorm broke, and the pastor’s benediction was drowned out by a blinding flash of lightning, followed by terrific thunder. “Well, she’s got there all right,” commented one of the mourners.

Where is the love?

It is most common in life, that we lose the love for one another when we feel mistreated by those who do not deserve it. Sometimes we think they are to blame for our problems and life would be better without them. This is where we turn to St. John for a refresher, so that we may find the love once again. Keep the image, however, of that person or persons you may have or still do, distribute blame for your own misfortune. There are three passages from St. John this morning and one from St. Luke in his Acts of the Apostles. It begins in our collect, a borrowing of John 14:6, when Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” Understanding this is to know God and to know God “perfectly” is to know God’s son, Jesus the Christ. Following his steps, leads us to eternal life where we once more find the love that we have been searching. But let it be clear, eternal life cannot be obtained if you spit on the grave of the person you cast blame. The Jews had a lot of reason to blame the gentiles for their condition. They were marginalized, heavily taxed and lost their inheritance to them. Foreigners who had invaded by military force, by economics, by politics and by religion had entered Israel. They were the enemy, yet God says to love your enemy. In the Acts of the Apostles, Peter is confronted by the Jewish apostles, those who faithfully swore to follow Jesus. They asked him why he ate and fellowshipped with the Gentiles. They, after all, were unclean and undeserving. They would be the ones who would go to hell because they were not God’s chosen people.

Where is the love?

The Jew held the commandments strictly. By Law, they were to obey. Which law, Jesus always questioned. Was it the ten given from God to Moses on Mt. Sinai or the hundreds that developed and became massively categorized and legalized thereafter? Purity laws forbid the Jew from eating unclean animals. No four- legged animal with hoofed feet, as that was not kosher. Certainly no reptiles or birds of prey, as was seen in Peter’s vision. But God gave Peter that vision, in a trance no less, as he was about to condemn the gentiles who came for conversion, or at least brush them off for they were worthy of blame. God would have nothing of it. He tells the others, these three men along with six of our own brothers (for the sake of witness), and the man of the house they visited in Joppa, were all filled with the Holy Spirit.” Who was I to hinder God,” Peter asked?

Where is the love?

Further along, John has a revelation on Patmos and records it in his codified letter to his disciple Polycarp. Like Peter, he saw something come down from heaven. Instead of unclean animals made ready to eat, John saw a city, a holy city, the new Jerusalem coming down from God as a bride being prepared for the bridegroom. “See the home of God is among mortals.” Perhaps John is hearing his new disciples closing the door on this wayward and sinful generation, saying surely there will be not much time left before Jesus comes back. No one else is going to make it in, similar to Noah’s ark. But lo and behold it has been nearly two thousand years and God continues to extend His love. The new Jerusalem that is revealed to John is the place where Jesus lives in us. “To the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life,” are God’s words. For those who treat us wrongly and accuse us falsely, where is the love?
Finally, in the Gospel, Jesus says, “I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. By this everyone will know you are my disciples.”

Can you love the one who you despise and hold a grudge?
The Way to love, is to embrace the gentile.
The Truth to love, is to give water to the thirsty.
The Life to love, is to follow this new commandment.
“Where is the love,” some may still ask?
It is found only through God’s Son, Jesus Christ, our Lord.

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