Sunday Sermon for May 5, 2024, the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B

Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17

In the Gospel reading today our Lord makes a statement that is so profound that it should shake us to the core of our being.  Jesus tells us that as the Father loves Him, so He also loves us.  Unfortunately, this is a statement we have heard many times and tend to let it enter one ear and roll out of the other.  Perhaps the problem comes from our own failure to understand what this kind of love is or maybe it is because we are not following the Lord’s command to love one another as He loves us.

So, why is this so astounding and why should it shake us to the core of our being?  Jesus says He loves us the way His Father loves Him.  God’s love is perfect.  The Father loves the Son literally 100% and the Son receives that love 100%.  Because the love is perfect, the two are in perfect conformity with one another.  Of course, both the Father and the Son love the Holy Spirit in the same manner and the Holy Spirit receives their love and loves them in return.  Since this love is also perfect, the three are one.

Jesus says He loves us as He is loved by His Father.  This also means He loves us as He loves His Father.  In the Gospel, our Lord tells us that there is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.  If we state that another way, we could say there is no greater love than to give 100%.  Jesus laid down His life for us; He loves us perfectly. 

In the second reading, St. John says that love consists in the fact that God has loved us, not that we have loved God.  Remember that we can only love because we are loved first.  We cannot initiate love; God loves us and we are able to love God and neighbor with the love God has given us.  This is nothing new, so once again, why is this so astounding?

Because love conforms the beloved to the lover.  Love is a two-way street with both persons loving and both receiving the love of the other.  Jesus, as well as the Father and the Holy Spirit, loves us perfectly.  Therefore, what we receive is perfect love which, in turn, allows us to love perfectly.  If we receive God’s love and love Him perfectly in return, we will be completely transformed.  In essence, we will become divine, that is, we will be one with God.

Does this sound impossible?  Being made in the image and likeness of God, and even more, through baptism being the very children of God, we are made specifically for this purpose.  We are members already of the Son of God and, as we have seen, the Father loves the Son perfectly.  As members of the Son of God, we are to be conformed to Jesus Who loves the Father perfectly.  You are a member of the Son which means God loves you perfectly, absolutely, totally! 

In the first reading we hear about the Gentiles receiving the Holy Spirit.  You have already received Him; He is the love of God poured into our hearts.  God has given us Himself!  There is nothing lacking in God’s love for us, so our failure to be conformed to Him implies that we are either failing to receive His love or we are failing to return His love (or both).  Most of us actually have a serious problem receiving love.  This is because we do not really believe we are lovable.  We also struggle mightily to love because our selfishness gets in the way of being able to give ourselves completely. 

God is offering you the only thing that will fulfill you.  Our Lord told us that if we remain in His love, our joy will be complete.  Happiness, being an emotion, is a passing thing; joy remains.  Our Lord is not talking about having a little bit of joy, or even a lot of joy; He is talking about complete joy, being filled with joy to the fullness of our capacity. 

All this is predicated on our need to reject the lies that we are not lovable or that God cannot, or does not, love us.  We must receive the love of God, but we must receive that love as He loves us, not with our distorted idea of what His love should be because of our inability to comprehend it.  He is within us, just waiting for us to open our hearts, receive His love, and be transformed into love through union with Him.  This is pure and perfect joy.  To possess it, heed the advice of St. Elizabeth of the Trinity who said: “Let yourself be loved!”

Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit