LOVE IN ACTION – Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year A

May 17, 2020

Revised Common Lectionary

Acts 17:22-31
Psalm 66:8-20
1 Peter 3:13-22
John 14:15-21

Lectionary for Mass (RC)

Acts 8:5-8, 14-17
Psalm 66:1-3, 4-5, 6-7, 16, 20 (1)
1 Peter 3:15-18
John 14:15-21

Last year in Tucson, Arizona, humanitarian volunteer Scott Warren was arrested for providing food, water, and shelter in the desert for two migrants who had crossed the U.S. border illegally. Warren was subsequently acquitted by a jury of conspiracy to harbor and transport migrants.

Twenty-five years earlier in that same city, eight members of the Sanctuary movement, all of them religious leaders, were found guilty on similar charges. At a press conference following their conviction, Darlene Nicgorski gave this testimony regarding her conviction: “If I am guilty of anything, I am guilty of living the Gospel.”

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells the disciples that love is something to be lived: “They who have my commandments and keep them are those who love me” (Jn 14:21). Love may involve feelings but it is far more than that. Love is a decision to be for others and is expressed in concrete actions.

Jesus gave the disciples a model of love in action when he got up from the table to wash their feet. He offered the supreme example of love as he poured out his life on the cross: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13).

The author of First Peter, writing to believers facing persecution, encourages them to put faith and love into action as their best defense: “Even if you do suffer for doing what is right, you are blessed” (1 Pt 2:13). Suffering is not an end in itself, but as leaders of modern nonviolent resistance movements have demonstrated, suffering for what is right can put persecutors to shame (1 Pt 2:16).

Most of us may not face arrest for standing up for right, but we may endure rejection by calling out racist comments, advocating for just wages, or writing letters on behalf of migrant children. Whenever we suffer for doing good, Jesus assures us that we are not alone. The Spirit of truth will be our Advocate even as the Risen One himself continues to live in us (Jn 14:16, 20).

A Song for Today: “Goodness Is Stronger Than Evil”

This text first appeared in An African Prayer Book, and was written by South African Archbishop Desmond Tutu, an outspoken advocate for human rights. Of several musical settings have been created for this text, the best known is a sturdy and confident tune by Scottish minister, preacher, composer, and song leader John L. Bell, FHS.

Goodness is stronger than evil;
love is stronger than hate;
light is stronger than darkness;
life is stronger than death.
Victory is ours through him who loved us.

“Goodness is stronger than evil” (Victory is ours), text only, by Desmond Tutu, from An African Prayer Book, published by Doubleday.  Copyright © 1995 by Desmond Tutu. Used with permission. All rights reserved.

Image credit: Hands, all together

“Word and Song: A Lectionary Reflection” is written by the Executive Director of The Hymn Society, Rev. Dr. Mike McMahon. For his full bio, click here and scroll down to the “staff” section.