God does not love us because we are lovely or loveable; His love exists not on account of our character, but on account of His. Our highest experience is responsive not initiative. And it is only because we are loved by Him that we are loveable.
Fulton Sheen Rejoice, 1984, 9
God loves us; we can say this with the utmost confidence because of the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, it all proclaims the same truth: God loves us, not because we’re worthy of it, but so that we might become what God is. It is what we celebrate at Easter, it lies at the heart, the core of our faith as Christians. It’s why we are what we are, and why we do what we do, to proclaim this simple truth to the world.
We show our love for God by keeping his word, and by loving each other as he has loved us. We are called to exactly the same sacrificial, self-giving love which Our Lord shows us: Love one another as I have loved you, it doesn’t get more explicit. Now, I don’t know about you, but for me, that’s a big ask. It should really make us stop in our tracks and realise the enormity of the task and our utter reliance upon God’s grace, and to to stay close to him in Word and Sacrament, and it’s something which we need to do together, as a christian community. We show this love by keeping God’s word, by doing what Jesus tells us to do and not simply going along with the ways of the world.
Our Lord promises his disciples that the Father will send the Holy Spirit in Jesus’ name to teach us all things and to bring to our remembrance all that he said to us. The Holy Spirit speaks through the Church so that we can profess our faith in the co-eternal and consubstantial Trinity. His gift to us is His peace – not as in simply the absence of war or violence, but rather something deeper and far more profound. The peace that Jesus promises is that which characterises the life of the Godhead: a peace which passes all human understanding, a peace which the world cannot give.
We can have peace through our relationship with the Trinity, the source of our peace, and joy, and love. Grounded in this relationship we need not be afraid or troubled – we are free to live lives which proclaim God’s love and victory so that the world may believe. Through God loving us, we can truly love him and each other. We experience this most clearly at the Eucharist when Christ feeds us with His Body and Blood, which he as both priest and victim offers on the Altar of the Cross. That self same sacrifice which heals the world through the outpouring of God’s love feeds us here and now. We are fed so that we may be nourished and share in the divine life and the joy of heaven. We receive the free gift of God’s grace so that it may perfect our human nature, so that we may go where Our Lord is going, and share in the joy, and love, and peace of the Triune God.
The values of the Kingdom and those of the world are different, and as Christians we need to be prepared to stand up for them, in the face of opposition by a world which is challenged by the values of that Kingdom, which sees love and mercy as far more important than wealth and power. It isn’t easy, it’s far easier to just go along with the world, like a dead fish carried along by the current, whereas only a live fish can swim against the stream. We should rejoice as we await the coming of the Spirit at Pentecost after Our Lord has ascended, as in this we see the birth and spread of the Church – it’s why we are here, because people filled with the love of God and His Holy Spirit have brought us into His loving embrace. Loved by him, we are to share that love with others, so that the world may believe and share in the source of all love, and peace, and joy. It’s not somebody else’s responsibility but ours as the baptised people of God to follow in the footsteps of the apostles and share what we have received so that we and all the world may sing the praise of God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, to whom be ascribed as is most right and just all might, majesty, glory, dominion, and power, now and forever.