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FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER (Carole Moore, Preaching)

There is a question often asked in Sunday school - how many commandments are there? I am sure that we would all say ten. But after reading today's Gospel lesson (John 13:31-35) we would have to say eleven. For in this Gospel reading, we find the 11th Commandment - "that you love one another just as I have loved you."

This is a very powerful Commandment given by Jesus to his disciples - you should love one another just as I have loved you. This is a very powerful kind of love - love one another as I have loved you - with total commitment, total giving of oneself - even if it leads to your death. Love one another so that everyone will know you are my disciples by the fact that you show love for one another.

This reading from St. John takes place during the evening of the Last Supper, the evening of the Passover meal. It is after Jesus has given Judas the piece of bread to let Judas know that He knew who was going to betray Him. Judas received the bread from Jesus and left the table and the room. In verse 31, the opening line of the Gospel reading, it says "When he had gone out" - referring to Judas.

It is only after Judas is no longer in the room that Jesus tells the rest of his disciples - "Little children, I am with you only a little longer." Jesus addressed his disciples as "Little children" - not meaning that they were young or acted like children, but as a term of endearment, a sign of love.

"Where I am going, you cannot come." The disciples did not really understand what Jesus meant by this statement - but Jesus knew what was to happen to Him; He knew that his life was soon to be over. He knew that He was going to leave this earth and return to His Father in heaven. He knew that his disciples could not follow him there. That is why He wanted to give His disciples the 11th Commandment, to make a lasting impression on them, to leave them with one last piece of His teaching, one last important thing that they must all live by, perhaps one of the hardest lessons he would teach them. "love one another as I have loved you." Everyone should know that you are My disciples by your doing this, by your loving one another. By following My examples, you will become like Me.

This was to be a bond of mutual love in the community. It is an example of Jesus's own caring for the community, "as I have love you," by My example. Jesus gave up His life for us, the supreme expression of His love for us. He wanted to emphasize that this commandment is love within the community.

We should treat each other in the same manner in which we would like to be treated. Be respectful of one another; be cautious not to say or do anything to hurt one another. Be cheerful; be kind; be considerate. Treat everyone with the qualities with which Jesus treated the multitudes.

We are to love another; this is our new commandment. We should love each other as we wish to be loved, as Jesus loved us. In Paul's letter to the Romans, chapter 13, Paul writes that all the other commandments are summed up in this one -- "Love your neighbor as yourself."

In St. John, in the verses following our Gospel lesson, Jesus tells Peter that he will deny him three times. Jesus tells his disciples that "if you love me, you will keep My commandments. And My Father will give you another helper to be with you forever. In a little while, the world will no longer see me, but you will see me, because I live, you will also live. Those who love me will be loved by My Father."

The beginning of the Gospel lesson refers to the Glorification of God and the Son of Man. It has been referred to by some writers as an early Christian hymn celebrating the enthronement of Christ, looking forward to His coming in glory.

In our second reading (Revelation 21:1-6) we hear the words "to the thirsty I will give water as a gift from the spring of the water of life." The thirsty does not mean those whose throats are dry or parched. It means those who are thirsty for eternal life, for those who thirst to be in the Kingdom of God, to be with Him forever.

We are thirsty for the water from the spring of life. That is why we come to Church on Sunday, to have our thirst quenched, to be filled with the Word of God and to partake of the Communion meal as a member of the body of Christ. We come back each week to have our thirst quenched again and again; we are hungry and thirsty for His teachings, for the examples which God gives us, for ways to live our lives as Christians, for ways to be one of Jesus's disciples, for ways to show his love and mercy to all around us, to love one another.

Today's Psalm (#148) is full of praise for all that the Lord has done, praise to God the Creator, praise for God's universal glory. In it we praise the Lord for the sun, the moon and the stars. For the waters and all that dwell in them, for fire and hail, snow and fog and wind. We praise God for the mountains, the hills, the fruit trees and the trees which supply us with wood. We praise Him for all cattle, birds, and other living things. We praise Him for all rulers of the world, all peoples young and old. We praise His name, the name of the Lord, whose splendor is over all the aerth and heaven.

we should remember to praise the Lord, to praise and thank Him for all that He has given us, this beautiful land in which we live, this Church in which we gather each week, the members of the congregation who make us one big family of God, and for all that He has done to bless our lives.

Jesus, in our first lesson, tells Peter to tell His story to all, even to the Gentiles, to save them as well. Do not consider them unclean, even though they do not eat the same food that you eat, even though they do not live their lives as you do. Go to them and offer them the gift of the Holy spirit and the gift of life as Jesus offered it to you. Offer even the Gentiles the repentance that leads to life.

We are to tell ALL about the gift of life that we have received from Jesus, from God. We should tell everyone about the wonderful gifts we share with each other, our sharing of the Holy Scriptures each week, our sharing of Communion and our sharing of ourselves, our sharing of love for all in the community. This is our commandment, one which is evangelisticin tone: tell everyone what we have received from God, and offer to share that giving with them. Share that love from God.

Jesus's gift of love is that of the risen and glorified Christ to His Church.

Jesus said "I give unto you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another. Everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."

Are we Jesus's disciples? Do we show His love each day toward those we meet? In all aspects of our lives?
Think about this: do we truly love one another as Jesus loves us?