Fifth Sunday of Easter: The Sanctity Of Life
Franciscan Reflections From The Hermitage – The Sanctity Of Life – Fifth Sunday of Easter – (John 13:31-35)
A new commandment I give you: that you love one another. By this everyone will know that you are disciples to me, if you have love for one another… yes, yes, Jesus, but… it’s complicated!
Yes, but… And now comes the bad news: you’re not good enough; your efforts didn’t quite make the grade, and there, there goes love flying out of the window. It doesn’t really matter very much what comes after the ‘yes, but’… it all boils down to the same sad news. “Yes, that’s great, but have you seen how Joe did it. Yes, that’s painful, but how does it compare to my suffering!” This is jealousy that desires unending affirmation, seeks to control the others’ emotions, stifles freedom, and poisons relationships
It is often unreflective, yet spiteful and vindictive, used to belittle the other so that we can feel better about ourselves, without having to actually face and deal with our fear, pain, trauma, and all those unresolved issues and projections. When we open this door into our hearts, evil gains its power. If there is power apart from love, it is evil and will give birth to evil.
The problem of sin and evil, our pain and our suffering cannot be confronted through pious platitudes; even less by a bloodthirsty and vengeful deity. Bitterness, anger, resentment, and transference, lead always and only to a cycle of violence, retaliation, and death.
Yes, but… it’s the toxic put-down, it kills respect, it kills love, and it kills truth as quickly and as easily as it destroys families, communities, and marriages; “yes, he’s a great provider, but you should see him when he gets home from work!”
This is a toxic practice that quickly becomes ingrained, becoming habitual hiding behind the mask of humour and sarcasm. It is a toxic practice that poisons our discipleship of Christ and infects our Christian mindset. As long as we remain in the grips of this disease, the gospel remains perverted, our love distorted and tainted.
Yes, you shall not kill… “but the vandals are coming for us, and we will be destroyed”. This is a righteous war, a holy war, and so some lives are more important than others, some are more innocent… so we mock God, deface God’s word, and trample love in the mud. “You shall love one another as I have loved you.”
“Yes Lord, but, those others are unworthy, they are sinners, and they are excluded from your protection and love.” Against this backdrop of posturing, our imagined self-importance, our delusions of grandeur, illusions of control, the glorification of ourselves and our beauty and our accomplishments, our families, our clan, our race, our country or our team, and our own particular ‘image of God’, this Sunday’s Gospel presents us with another way; a new commandment, the commandment of love which must give of itself, sacrifice itself.
This is the Way of the cross that teaches us how to die, not kill, how to lay down our lives, not take the lives of others. On the cross Jesus’ glory and divine dignity, are made supremely manifest, and so is ours. Herein lies the jewel of our personal sacredness, holy and inviolable.
Death’s stronghold has been defeated through selfless love. We are no longer under its rule, no longer under the dictates of having to take life in order to protect life. God’s Son redeems the marred image in all of us so that we, the sons and daughters of God, are able to be victorious over every weapon of death. (Moore, C.E., Is human Life always Sacred?)
Through Christ, we can freely, even joyfully, give our lives away, even if it means our deaths. The dictates of death, with its “conspiracy against life,” are neither invincible nor inevitable. Every decision, each judgement begins in our hearts, with the foundation of Love. All good things come by way of love.
This reflects our particular Franciscan stance and a consistent ethic of life grounded in the radical interconnectedness of all creation that is good, that is beautiful.