Author: cheok hong chuan
Date: 05-13-12 14:46
Sunday Mass 13th May 2012
For Chinese Christians only!
This is an edited version of my usual weekly discourse to my family, siblings, relatives and friends. I am posting it for the benefit of Chinese Christians on the forum so that they get away from ‘gweilo’ corrupt version Christianity. So please do not comment in an anti-Christian sense for that would defeat the purpose of this exercise.
Last Sunday’s Mass’s 1st reading was on Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48, on the day of the Pentecost; 2nd Reading was on 1 John 4:7-10 on ‘God is Love’ and the Gospel Reading was on John 15:9-17 on ‘No one can have greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.’ Last week I had already commented on this aspect as I commented up to paragraph 13.
I like to commence my discourse on the Gospel Reading on what Jesus said in para. 12 – “This is My commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.” The scriptures started off with the Ten Commandments as per Moses. Then it became the Twin Commandments –  Love God with all your mind, body and soul.  Love your neighbour as you love thyself. See Matthew 22:37-40. Now all this is now subsumed in the One Commandment above – “love one another as I have loved you.”
Now, this ‘love’ is not just any love. It is ‘agape’ and not ‘eros’ or ‘philia’. Greek was in biblical times the international language as English is today. The Bible in biblical times was written in Greek. ‘Agape’ is like putting somebody else’s welfare, well-being, and security and needs as paramount before your own. It is like Buddhist ‘metta’ – the mother’s loving-kindness for her only child; or Confucian ‘filial piety’ or ‘hau suen’ – the obeisance, love and reverence and respect and homage and accommodation for one’s parents. It is not ‘eros’ as in sensual or sexual love or ‘philia’ as in friendship or camaraderie
To understand what Christian love is we will study what Jesus said in this Gospel reading. Jesus said in para. 13 – “A man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friends.” Now that takes it beyond ‘philia’. One does not normally die for simple friendship! If a man has to give up his life for a friend to meet this test, the test for the ‘spirit’ must be even higher! It requires you to love your enemy! So the love that is in “love one another as I have loved you” is ‘agape’ the love that requires you to ‘love your enemy’! To be a true Christian you have to understand the tenor of this standard!
Later in para. 16 Jesus said – “You did not choose me, no, I chose you.” No, do not take the words literally! This ‘choosing’ has nothing to do with a personal subjective election or choice; for that would suggest that Jesus had an ‘ego’, that he can show ‘bias’, that he can be ‘discriminating’ or that he can be judgmental, when he has and is none of these! It is about his ‘agape’, his unrequited love for us, his universal love for us. “As I have loved you” and “I chose you” is like a mother’s love for her child as in ‘metta’, like a father’s love for his prodigal delinquent son, a child’s filial love for his or her parents as in ‘filial piety’. Here Christ as Son-of-God loves us as in ‘agape’, his spirit sibling sons-of-God. If you have ever fallen in love with a stranger and would die for her, you know what ‘agape’ is.
This takes us to God’s demonstration of his universal love, his compassion, in his unconditional fatherly love, equally for all his children, in the Day of the Pentecost in the 1st Reading.
“Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God.” Acts 10:44-45.
In the ‘spirit’ we are all sons-of-God with the Spirit God as the Father in Heaven. Spirit God loves us all equally as his spirit children patiently and unconditionally, no matter what we are, as we are, lost in our alter ego in our worldly being, our worldly body being, in our worldly existence, rich or poor, healthy or sick, whether we are worldly Christians, Muslims, Jews, Hindus, Buddhists; whether we are black, white, yellow, green or blue!; whether we have been good or bad or indifferent in our worldly affairs or relationships, no matter how many times or often that we repent and sin again or stumble and fall in or before his righteousness.
In the ‘spirit’ what matters is whether we choose to remain separated from the Father or whether we realise our prodigality and return home, and that is what is meant by being reborn in the spirit and rejecting the web of deceit of Satan that led to the Fall of Adam, rejecting the worldly self ego, of having an idol of ourselves before God the Spirit Father. That is the only ‘sin’ that matters; that requires ‘forgiveness’ subsumed in ‘reconciliation’ of the ‘spirit, which is what the Holy trinity signifies; that has no basis or foundation in tainted wrongdoing or judgment or punishment. As Jesus himself said – we know not what we do or did!