Homily: 1John 4:7- 10; Mark 6:34- 44

LET US LOVE ONE ANOTHER FOR LOVE COMES FROM GOD. The whole of the first reading today represents one of the high points of the entire Bible. This section of St. John's first Epistle is where we find the powerful and awesome affirmation God is love. The evangelist draws a number of conclusions from this dogma that are intended to be supremely reassuring to believers. Do you believe in God? Are you seeking Him? That is an indication that God has sought you out; He is the one who took the initiative, not you, and He did so simply because He loves you. His love is not passive, but aggressively energetic.

John is at pains immediately to explain the manner in which God manifests His love for us, and his explanation is a pointer to the forms and expressions of true love. This is how God has manifested his love among us: God has sent his only Son into the world so that we might live by him. If we wish to know what God's love is like then we need only to observe attentively the words and acts of this Son of God. Jesus is a man for others; he gives himself for all; he came to serve not to be served, and he persevered in that attitude even when it caused him suffering and led to his death. Once we understand this kind of love then we can safely live by John's injuction: Let us love one another, for love comes from God.

St. Augustine comments on these words that reveal a truth that is intended to determine our way of understanding God and of relating to Him

If nothing were to be said in praise of love in all the pages of this Epistle, if absolutely nothing in the other pages of the Scriptures and we were to hear this one thing from the voice of the Spirit of God, that God is love, we would need to seek nothing further. Now observe that to act contrary to love is to act contrary to God (Commentaire de la 1ere Ep. de St. Jean, VII 4, and 5 S.C. ed. 1961,320).

In today's Gospel we are privileged to witness one of the particular occasions when the Lord displayed God's love and his own. The multiplication of loaves and fish was occasioned by the need of the crowd for whom Jesus felt compassion. His love is not merely a sentiment but a force that is efficacious. His love is so creative that it extends to the very substance of matter, changing the laws by which it normally operates. We know that at the end of his life he would alter the nature of bread, transforming it into his very body and blood. This alteration he ordered to be repeated, and passed on the powers he possessed to accomplish it to his appointed disciples. In doing so he was expressing a transcendent love that would lead him to give his life for his followers and for all who would open themselves to his offer.

Yes, God is love, and the Eucharist is a supreme expression of that love . It is a love which continues the sacrifice that obtains for us the assurance of eternal life. For God's mastery is not limited to power over matter; it extends as well to time so that he continues to sacrifice himself out of love for you and me. In doing so he takes the initiative that is essential for our receiving the gift of life he brings, for without the grace won by his mediatory sacrifice we remain powerless before the invitation to love in spirit and in truth.

As we offer the Eucharist today, then, may we respond gratefully to this great gift in which our Lord shares who and what he is with us. In this sacrament he enters into a communion with us in a spiritual intimacy that surpasses all other possible sharing. By living from this communion in the Spirit we return love for love and thus become mem-bers of God's family and citizens of His kingdom. Let us then love one another, my brothers and sisters, in Spirit and in the truth manifested in Chrit's passion and death, for such selfless love truly comes from God and unites us with one another in Him.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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