July 2017 Convocation Newsletter

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The Fifth Sunday of Easter

It is a great joy to be among the parish of St. Paul’s within the Walls, Rome. The Gospel that was just read to us was traditionally used on Maundy Thursday when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. And the Latin “mandatum novum” or a “new commandment” is where the word Maundy comes from — a kind of contraction. “A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you.” It is rather strange to be ordered to love. What does this mean?

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It is a great joy to be among the parish of St. Paul’s within the Walls, Rome. The Gospel that was just read to us was traditionally used on Maundy Thursday when Jesus instituted the Sacrament of his Body and Blood. And the Latin “mandatum novum” or a “new commandment” is where the word Maundy comes from — a kind of contraction. 

“A new commandment I give you that you love one another as I have loved you.” It is rather strange to be ordered to love. Again, “a new commandment I give you.” I know some people think that the Episcopal Church calls the ten commandments the ten suggestions. But this is not a suggestion; it is a commandment just like the other ten.

Imagine a general standing in front of his troops as he reviews them, and he says, “I order you to love me.” I think his troops would fall on the ground laughing. Think of a father saying to his daughter, “I order you to love me. You have to love me. I’m your father.” It wouldn’t work. Think of a fiancée saying to her fiancé ‘You need to love me. You must love me.” That doesn’t work, does it? 

You really can’t force someone to love another person or yourself. To go back to those ten suggestions, there is one — Honor your father and mother. Notice that we are commanded to honor and not to love. For all kinds of reasons. It is very sensible. We should honor where we come from regardless whether our parents are still alive, or they abandoned us, whenever  they were they greatest parents in the world. We are our past. 

But this commandment does not order us to love, and yet Jesus, in his last night with us, gives us a new commandment: “that you love one another as I have loved you.” What does this mean? 

LISTEN TO THE FULL SERMON


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