Search

Fifth Sunday of Easter


Saint Margaret’s Anglican Church Budapest, Hungary 15 May 2022 We were delighted to welcome Mr. Ádám Bak as our guest preacher this day. Ádám, a member of the Saint Margaret’s community and a former Catholic priest, is seeking to have his Holy Orders recognised in the Church of England. „ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους· καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς” ͗Αμίν Dear Friends, I think all of you are surprised at the unusual commencement of this Sermon. I just quoted in Greek a sentence from the Gospel of this day, Love each other as I have loved you, as we just heard. We know it well. Of course, my intention was not just to demonstrate that I can quote from the Gospels in Greek. So, I will explain why I felt it was so important to speak the text in the original language. But first, in order to have a deeper understanding of this text, let’s consider briefly the passage this morning from the Acts of the Apostles. In this passage, Peter, a religious Jew, experiences a major development in his life. He has a vision about something like a large sheet. God then instructs him to do something against the Jewish law which had been received through Moses. To some unclean... But Peter makes an objection. He doesn’t want to eat something forbidden. But this is just the first step in his development. The next step is, I think, the bigger one. He visits a Gentile, in other words a pagan, home, and all the people in that home repent and turn to the new faith, to faith in Christ. If I were to summarise forward my message for today, I would mention several keywords: change, renew, transform. In the Gospel account today from John, Jesus is sitting with his friends in the Upper Chamber of the Last Supper. He says a long goodbye or farewell and gives a new and eternal commandment to the Apostles and, through the Apostles, to us. It is the new commandment which surpasses all previous rules and laws, the commandment of love. And now, back to the quoted passage I began with! Love each other as I have loved you! I have read this sentence in many languages; in Hungarian of course, German, French, Church Slavonic, and Latin; and I always noticed the same problem with the translation. The translation was incorrect. It did not capture the true meaning of the original Greek. In Greek, there is a very interesting tense, which we call aoristos, or aorist, and which is used in this passage. This tense has a sense of something extended in time. It always indicates something which begins in the past but also affects the presence. This tense has a continuity about it. In this sense, it is about change and transformation. So, Jesus here uses not just a simple past tense but an aorist tense form. The best way to translate it is into the present-perfect, the tense in English which indicates something which begins in the past but continues to have an effect in the present. I am sure that when our Lord was speaking at the Last

Supper in Aramic he did not just say, I loved you, period. No; Clearly his message of love extends forward into the present. I am still loving you. I did not just love you on the shore of Lake Genesareth; I did not just love you at the time of the Sermon on the Mount or at the footwashing. I love you here and now because my love is eternal and everlasting. It is about transformation. Because of this tense, the aorist, this sentence was and is experienced in the present not just by the Apostles, but by the martyrs in the early Church, by Francis from Assisi in the thirteenth century, and by peoples throughout the centuries, and last but not least by us! This love of Jesus was not a feeling from the past, from our Lord’s earthly life but present reality in his divinity. It is all about change, renewal, and transformation. When we think about the commandment of love, our attention is always on the beauty of this sentence. Ooohh, how great it is indeed. Love is the most important thing in life. Well said, Jesus! BUT! What about our adversaries or persecuters, our enemies? How can a Syrian Christian love a Muslim, or in these times how can a Ukrainian love a Russian? To tell the truth, this commandment sounds very sweet and simple but in its deeper meaning it is perhaps harder than all Ten Commandments together. How can I love my persecuter? My friends: To give you a very honest answer: I don’t know. I have never been in a situation like that faced by the people in the Middle-East, like the Ukrainians. So, I can only give you a hypothetical answer to the question, what would I do? I am not sure I understod your point here. Sometimes the best way to find out how much I love is to not search out the person I don’t like. But if I know that somebody is not open or friendly toward me, I can still pray for him or her. And of course the best sign of my love is that I do not rurn away from someone in need who has harmed me, or even persecuted me. It is indeed hard to find the balance in love. There is the forever valid commandment: love each other. But we also know that the language of love can be difficult to express or understand. After all, each of us has one language of love for our partner or spouse,andanotherforaparent,child,relative,orclosefriend. Itisnotthesamelanguageoflove whch we use for a beggar in the street, much less with someone seeking to harm us, a persecuter, in other words. The essence of love is that I approach everyone with an open mind and an open heart. In the love we share we can see our own development, as did Peter. If we understand the deeper meaning of love, it changes everything which was unclean before, and it can renew and transform our lives. Again: Change, Renewal, Transformation. But there is something weird or strange about this... With this love which we receive directly from the Master we can tranform not just ourselves or our life but the whole world, the whole unverse. Nobody knows the day nor the hour; nor how the world will end. But yes, my friends, these passages from Scripture today are pointing us toward the end- times, the end of the world, if you like. But – as we learned in seminary in theology – the end of the world will not be distruction or end but renewal and new beginning. Change. Renewal in the Holy Spirit, transformation in the Love of God! So, my suggestion is that we help prepare the world for the Lord’s Coming, to make these last hours of the world a time of renewal and transformation! Let us love each other and abolish this sinful and painful world, this world which is so full of war and suffering! Let us love one another and create a new world which belongs wholly to God, which belongs to Love! Only love can transform the world; but love doesn’t exist without us. I encourage all of us to begin again to love! It should be not a feeling from the past nor a plan for the future, but a present reality

as is the commandment f our Lord in today’s Gospel account! We have received the comandment: Love each other. As the Lord loves us,so should we love each other. „ἀγαπᾶτε ἀλλήλους· καθὼς ἠγάπησα ὑμᾶς” ͗Αμίν

4 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All