GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
With the Second Sunday of Easter we move into the Easter season proper, and you’re going notice right away that the readings during the season of Easter, leading up to Pentecost, are going to be different from the rest of the liturgical year. So on most Sundays of the liturgical year you're going to begin with an Old Testament reading, then you’ll have a psalm, and then a New Testament reading and then the gospel. During the season of Easter, however, that shifts a little because we don't read from the Old Testament during the Easter season. The first reading is going to be from the Book of Acts, because what the church is doing during the Easter season is recalling the birth of Christianity, in a sense bringing us back in time to the earliest days of the spread of the gospel after the resurrection of Jesus Christ in the First Century A.D. So keep your eye on that. So as I’m going to go through the next several weeks of the Easter season, I'm going to begin with the gospel as usual but then Im going to go back not to the Old Testament, but to the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles. And, so you can probably guess that there’s not going to be any typological correlation because there isn’t an Old Testament reading. What we’re going to be doing more of during this Easter season is reflecting on the resurrection appearances of Jesus in the gospels, listening to some of the words of Jesus to his disciples about the age of the church from the Gospel of John in his discourse to the Last Supper, and then finally watching the church grow and emerge in the Acts of the Apostles. So that’s going to be the kind of program of reading for the next seven weeks until we get to the feast of Pentecost. So let's begin; the Gospel reading for this second Sunday of Easter is from John 20:19-31. So last week we looked at the discovery of the empty tomb on Sunday morning, but now we move to the next week after Jesus' resurrection and John's gospel says this...
SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):
Another point he says is:
By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and obey his commandments. For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 John 5:2-3a)
So the second point here is on the importance of keeping the commandments, which again, you can see how as the Gospel spread throughout the Mediterranean world, and you’ve got people like the apostle Paul saying that in order to be saved, you don’t have to be circumcised — or not just the apostle Paul, the apostle John. There’s a council in Jerusalem in 49 AD where Peter and John and the other apostles, along with Paul, meet and decide that Gentiles do not have to be circumcised in order to be saved. You can see this in Acts chapter 15.
Well, you could see easily how among some Jews, that might be cause for concern. It might sound like we’re abandoning the law of God; we’re abandoning the commandments of God. We don’t have to keep circumcision? What other commandments are we not obligated to keep? So John here, we see emphasizes — this may be a reason why he emphasizes, but he certainly emphasizes — that no, followers of Christ (as followers of Christ) we keep the commandments. That’s how we show our love of God.
So keeping the commandments is not optional for those who are in Christ. In fact, as he says:
For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. (1 John 5:3a)
That might be a little of a counterintuitive thing for us to hear, because modern people tend to think of the commandments primarily as extrinsic rules that we either keep or we violate...we either keep or we break. What John says here is, of course that’s true. There’s a deeper level, though, of understanding the commandments here that the commandments at the end of the day are not rules to be kept. They are the ways we love God or love our neighbor.
In fact, going all the way back to St. Augustine in the 5th century (early 5th century) in one of his classic treatises on questions about the book of Exodus, he divides up the two tablets of the Ten Commandments. The first three are regarding love of God, and then the second set of seven is regarding the love of neighbor. He kind of walks through each of those, and he says how they have to do with love.
And you can see that Augustine is not making this up, because if you go back to Exodus 20, the very first commandment against idolatry, God says, “I will punish those who commit idolatry…”:
...upon the children to the third and the fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing steadfast love to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments. (Exodus 20:5b-6)
That’s Exodus 20:6. So notice, when God describes the reason for either breaking or keeping the commandments against idolatry and blasphemy and Sabbath observance or honoring your father and mother, the reason He gives is it’s a question of love or hate. So if you love God, you will avoid idolatry. You won’t take His name in vain. You will keep holy the Sabbath...and so on and so forth. And if you hate God — that’s the antithesis that He gives — then you’ll worship idols and you’ll blaspheme and you won’t rest or honor the Sabbath. John is presupposing that as a Jew. He knows Exodus 20. He knows it’s about love — love or hate, at the end of the day. And he’s proposing that to his audience...that if this is love...if you want to love God, then keep His commandments.
So the upshot of that, the implication is if you worship idols, you don’t love God. If you blaspheme, if you take His name in vain, then you don’t love Him. If you won’t rest on the Sabbath, if you don’t honor the Sabbath Day, then you don’t love God. You love your work. You love your wealth. You love your pursuits...but you don’t love God. So the commandments are not extrinsic rules. They really are intrinsic signs of where a person’s heart is. It’s a more...this is John, right? It’s a more mystical way of reading the Sacraments. If I want to be in love with God, I’ll keep the commandments, because keeping the commandments keeps me united to God. It keeps me in the agape
of God, the love of God.
And he says this isn’t burdensome. These commandments are not burdensome. Far from being external rules that have to bear about and carry about, love is not a burden. It should be a joy to show love.
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