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Sunday Scripture: You did not choose me, but I chose you

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May 11, 2012

By Sister Betty Jane Lillie, SC

 

Sixth Sunday of Easter: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalm 98:1-4; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

 

The Christian message spread fairly quickly after the Pentecost event.

In our first reading, Luke relates that Cornelius, a Roman centurion, received Peter and some of the brethren into his home to speak to his household about the message they were preaching.  Peter’s first words to them were, “Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears Him and does what is right is acceptable to him” (Acts 10: 34-35).

 

Peter then summed up the Gospel message from the baptism of John to the sovereignty of Jesus. While he spoke, the Holy Spirit came upon all in the group, to the amazement of Peter’s Jewish companions. We notice that the Gentile listeners received the Spirit even before they were baptized — a remarkable and unexpected happening. So the apostle understood that those Gentiles, having the same Spirit that the Jews had received, could surely be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.  Thus, the Spirit demonstrated that the church could receive as members both Jews and Gentiles. God showed no partiality.

 

Luke’s summary of the life of the new Christians (Acts 2:42) is further discussed in our second reading.  The writer of 1 John puts love at the root of the Christian life, and it flows from the love of God made manifest among us by his only Son, so that we might live through him (1 John 4:7-10).  The Son was sent by God to be the expiation of our sins, and in that way God’s love is manifest to us.

 

We are told in 1 John that humankind is not the initiator of this love, but that God first loved us, and made His love visible to us in the redemptive act of Jesus.  Thus our response to God’s divine act of expiation for our sins comes as a gift to us from the Lord, and we are called to live in the love of God himself, and by extension of it to love one another.

 

In the Gospel reading John the Evangelist makes explicit the model of the love that the Lord sets for the Christian community. As the Father loves Christ, so Christ loves us; and we are called to abide in that love. Our outward expression of it is the keeping of the Commandments, and our choice to live in that lifestyle is the source of Christ’s joy in His followers.

 

Further, our love for the church is patterned on the love of Christ for us.  Living in that pattern raises believers from the position of servants to the status of friends with the opportunity to share in Christ’s knowledge of the Father. John returns in this passage to a characteristic statement, “You did not choose me, but I chose you”  (John 15:16). God is the initiator of our fruitfulness as it flows from abiding in Him.

 

With the psalmist we can sing joyful praise of God who has done marvelous things. Break forth in joyous song and sing praises!  (Psalm 98)

Sister Betty Jane is a faculty member at the Athenaeum of Ohio.

 

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