(Adults, you could begin by reading the first paragraph of the reflection to the child, then read the Gospel, and then continue with the reflection.)
This Sunday, we celebrate the fifth Sunday of Easter. But even as we continue to celebrate the Resurrection, we listen this Sunday to words Jesus says before he dies and rises to new life. We wonder what Jesus has in his heart as he speaks to his friends.
Before the festival of the Passover, Jesus knew that his hour had come to depart from this world and go to the Father.
The Gospel tells us that Jesus knows he will soon die on the cross. He will give all of himself to his friends in the bread and in the wine. He will give his whole life on the cross. At this moment, what does he hold in his heart?
Having loved his own who were in the world, he loved them to the end.
Love. His heart is full and overflowing with love for his own.
Who are Jesus' own? His family? His friends? His disciples?
“Little children, I am with you only a little longer.
Jesus knows that dying brings great change. God glorifies him—lifts him up and fills him with eternal life—life that will never end in death. But Jesus also knows that his family, friends, and disciples do not understand this. Before he leaves to die on the cross, before God glorifies him lifting him out of death, he wants them to understand something important. He has something he needs them to do.
I give you a new commandment, that you love one another. Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another.
Jesus does not have love. Jesus loves. Love is something that Jesus does. He wants his family, his friends, his disciples to love, too—just the way he loves.
How does Jesus love?
We could also ask, how does the Good Shepherd love?
We know the Good Shepherd feeds his sheep; we know he gives them rest. We know that he lays down his life for the sheep. In fact, is there anything the Good Shepherd would not do for his sheep? We hear in scripture,
The Good Shepherd loves by giving his own everything they need.
What if Jesus' own family, his own friends, his own disciples love this way?
What if they all love by giving their own everything they need?
Would anyone be hungry?
Would anyone be tired or lonely?
Would everyone have enough?
what if we love this way—the Good Shepherd's way?
By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
If we love this way—the Good Shepherd's way—we are his disciples.
If we love this way—Jesus' way—we are his own.
His heart overflows with love for us.
He holds us in his heart as he dies and rises to new life, as God glorifies him.
Everyone will know that we belong to him, because we love one another.