Fifth Sunday of Easter – C – April 06, 2007
Acts 14, 21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21, 1-5; St. John 13, 31-33. 34-35
In 1976 a car accident tore open the head of a 21-year-old Chicago boy named Peter. His brain was damaged and he was thrown into a deep coma. Doctors told Peter’s family and friends that he probably wouldn’t survive. Even if he did, he’d always be in a comatose state. One of the people who heard that frightening news was Linda, the girl Peter planned to marry. In the sad days ahead, Linda spent all her spare time in the hospital. Night after night, she’d sit at Peter’s bedside, pat his cheek, rub his brow, and talk to him. “It was like we were on a normal date,’’ she said. All the while Peter remained in a coma, unresponsive to Linda’s loving presence. Night after night, for three and a half months, Linda sat at Peter’s bedside, speaking words of encouragement to him, even though he gave no sign that he heard her. Then one night Linda saw Peter’s toe move. A few nights later she saw his eyelash flutter. This was all she needed. Against the advice of the doctors, she quit her job and became his constant companion. She spent hours massaging his arms and legs. Eventually she arranged to take him home. She spent all her savings on a swimming pool, hoping that the sun and the water would restore life to Peter’s motionless limbs.
Then came the day when Peter spoke his first word since the accident. It was only a grunt, but Linda understood it. Gradually, with Linda’s help, those grunts turned into words—clear words. Finally the day came when Peter was able to ask Linda’s father if he could marry her. Linda’s father said, “When you can walk down the aisle, Peter, she’ll be yours.’’ Two years later Peter walked down the aisle of Our Lady of Pompeii Church in Chicago. He had to use a walker, but he was walking. Every television station in Chicago covered that wedding. Newspapers across the country carried pictures of Linda and Peter. Celebrities phoned to congratulate them. People from as far away as Australia sent them letters and presents. Families with loved ones in comas called to ask their advice. Today, Peter is living a normal life. He talks slowly, but clearly. He walks slowly, but without a walker. He and Linda even have a lovely child.
The story of Linda and Peter is a beautiful commentary on the words of Jesus in today’s gospel:
“And now I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. If you have love for one another, then everyone will know that you are my disciples.” John 13:34–35
If there’s one thing we need to do today, it’s to rediscover the power of love, the kind of love that Jesus preached.
Because, just love and faith are able to do miracles in our lives.
A Hindu in India once said to a Christian missionary:
“If you Christians . . . were like your Bible and loved the way it says to love, you’d convert India in five years.’’
And –perhaps- we need to keep in mind some important truths about people and love Jesus is commanding us:
• No one needs love more than someone who doesn’t deserve it.
• If we sit around and wait for people to become lovable before we love them, we will sit around the rest of our lives and even till the end of world.
• It is precisely in the process of loving others that they become lovable.
And one more thing to keep in mind: “God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that whoever believes in him, may not perish, but have eternal life.” In today’s reading from the book of Revelation we read: “Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth. And the One who sat on the throne said, Behold, I make all things new.” (Rev 21:5a) and in the Gospel Jesus says: “I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.” (Jn 13:34) We can add with a certainty: The new heaven and the new earth will not come, will not be present among us until this new commandment will be realized in our lives.