The commandment to love

May 2, 2021

The Church owes much of the success of the ministry of Paul to Barnabas. When Paul came to Jerusalem, after his conversion, the majority of the apostles were afraid of him, and unable to include him among their league. Even the ordinary people questioned the legitimacy of his ministry. Paul’s reputation as a murderer was already widely known and it became a huge liability threatening to becloud the image of this new and redeemed man. In the midst of all those doubts, Barnabas, a just and generous man, stood up for and validated him. Barnabas was able to see the good in a man in whom others saw only the ugliness of sin. But for Barnabas, Paul’s ministry would have probably been derailed. Barnabas reminds us that no one is removed from God’s redemptive love no matter what their past has been. Barnabas’ kindness to Paul is a reflection of what John writes in today’s second reading: “Children let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1 Jn.3:18). When we love as God loves, which is to love in truth and in deed, we are united with Him as a vine with its branches. Jesus reminds us in today’s gospel that He is that life giving vine from whom we draw life. Our lives are constantly renewed by the keeping of His commandments, especially the commandment to love. Barnabas’ example challenges us to allow our love for one another to shine through our actions, by genuine kindness, refusing to judge harshly, seeing the beauty in every human person, and to avoid all hateful and discriminatory behaviors. Remain in me as I remain in you, says the Lord, for whoever remains in me bears much fruit (Jn. 15:4a, 5b). Amen.

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