Note: Yesterday, I was watching a Netflix DVD of the superb 2014 movie God’s Not Dead (more on the movie in my next post). At a harrowing point in the movie, when a Muslim father became enraged upon discovering that his daughter secretly had converted to Christianity, the thought came into my head: What differentiates Christianity from Islam and Judaism — and indeed from every other religion of human civilization — is that the God of Christianity willingly died for humanity because He loves us.
By happy coincidence, that is exactly the theme of the Gospel readings for this Sunday — the day of observance (“sabbath” if you will) for Christians in memory of the Resurrection of our loving God.
1 John 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another,
because love is of God;
everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God.
Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.
In this way the love of God was revealed to us:
God sent his only Son into the world
so that we might have life through him.
In this is love:
not that we have loved God, but that he loved us
and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Jesus said to his disciples:
“As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father’s commandments
and remain in his love.
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you
and your joy might be complete.
This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.
No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.
You are my friends if you do what I command you.
I no longer call you slaves,
because a slave does not know what his master is doing.
I have called you friends,
because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you
and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain,
so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you.
This I command you: love one another.”