Today’s scriptures speak to us about the essence of what it means to live a Christian life. First, as we can see in the reading from the Acts of the Apostles, it means making a clean break with the ways that we have been tethered to the world. For the newest members of the Church in that day, the rules and traditions had finally been settled. Some of the Pharisaic members of the Church insisted the new members ought to be circumcised and comply with the many minutiae of the Jewish law. But the Apostles remained firm that faith in Jesus was superior to the minutiae, and insisted only that the new Church members free themselves from any participation in idolatry and to keep their marriage covenants pure. This freed them from the idolatrous tethers to the world, and would give them freedom in the Spirit.
The second essence of living a Christian life comes to us in today’s Gospel reading, and that of course is to love. But Jesus isn’t asking for just any kind of love: nothing superficial, not mere infatuation, and certainly not lust. Jesus insists that his disciples love one another in the exactly same way that he loves them. And he showed them, and us, what he meant by that when he suffered and died on the cross. The disciple is expected to love sacrificially, unconditionally, just as Jesus has loved him, or her.
So perhaps these readings can be for us a kind of examination of conscience. In this Easter season, we need to be moving closer and closer in relationship with our Lord. So we have to look closely at our lives for any ties to the world, and root them out, once and for all. We have to look at our relationships, and see if the love that we show our brothers and sisters is sacrificial and unconditional, the same kind of love that we have received abundantly from our God. We are reminded that we did not choose Christ, he chose us, and gave us gifts we never deserved. Our thanksgiving for that great grace must be total devotion to him.