Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel
May 4, 2024 // Perspective

Loving God Means Following His Commandments

Msgr. Owen Campion
The Sunday Gospel

Sixth Sunday of Easter

The Acts of the Apostles once more provides an Easter season liturgy with its first reading.

In this reading, Peter goes to the house of Cornelius, who attempts to pay homage to Peter. Peter stops him, protesting that he is only human. Peter is not God, but he obviously represents Christ. The Lord had commissioned him. The Holy Spirit has empowered him.

Cornelius is a gentile. His name suggests that he may have been a Roman. Likely, the relatives and guests of Cornelius present in the house were gentiles. Probably some or many were Romans.

For devout, loyal Jews, if anything was worse than being a gentile, and of pagan stock, it was being a Roman. After all, Jews at the time were living under the crushing heel of Rome. They despised representatives of the Roman occupation.

Yet, Peter went into the home of Cornelius. The gentiles present understood what he was saying. They became part of the Christian community, or the Church. They became brothers and sisters of Christ, heirs to eternal life.

Through Peter, God reached out to gentiles, even though their backgrounds were in paganism and probably in sin.

The First Epistle of John is the source of the second reading. This epistle calls upon followers of Jesus to love one another. It states that God is love. God’s love for humanity was revealed in the gift of Jesus, and in the salvation achieved by Jesus for all who turn to God.

St. John’s majestic, compelling Gospel furnishes the last reading. It is a reservoir of theology, presented in the most eloquent language.

This reading’s message is frank and direct. If anyone truly loves God, then this person will keep the Commandments. By observing the Commandments, people live in God’s love. They imitate Christ. Living in God’s love produces joy. It creates union with God in Christ.

As the reading concludes, Jesus declares that no love exceeds the love that impels a person to surrender life itself so that a friend may live. “You are my friends,” Jesus says.

In the sequence of John’s Gospel, this passage is not post-Resurrection. The crucifixion looms ahead. Jesus awaits Good Friday. For us, on Good Friday, Jesus willingly submitted to death on the cross. He chose to die for us, that we might live and live eternally. He loved us with a perfectly unselfish love.

Then, as the reading closes, Jesus instructs us “to love one another.”


The second reading makes quite clear the theological fact that that God is love. What does this mean? It means that God is alive, active, and reaching to us, excluding no one. So, God forgives, God empowers, God transforms – all products of divine love.

God is our Father, and therefore humans should resemble God, just as children bear the genetic imprint of natural parents.

When Christians are called to love one another, they are asked to be what they should be if sin did not distort circumstances. Created by God, redeemed by God, Christians properly should mirror God.

We are humans. This is our species, and as humans, we are God’s children. We should resemble God, and we humans can resemble God, in all the goodness implied, because we can love God and love one another.

Love is much more than warm-heartedness or kind gestures, more than imprecise, half-hearted good intentions. The Lord explained in the Gospel reading. It is keeping the Commandments. By obeying the Commandments, we acknowledge and show our love for God.

Where is the strength to keep the Commandments?

Christ is in the Church, offering us the sacraments and God’s word, to show us the way and give us strength.   

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