Sunday, May 15, 2022

The Fifth Sunday of Easter

It was love at first sight.


That phrase is often used to describe how a relationship came to be.


We may read what a person has written or posted on social media; we may listen to a person’s words on a podcast. We may admire an individual’s accomplishments or learn about a person from others, but seeing that person ourselves usually makes a greater impression.


Seeing a person up close with our own eyes—noticing their features, observing their behavior, witnessing their involvement with others, looking into their eyes—can affect us more powerfully than simply reading or hearing about someone.


Relationships usually begin with seeing a person and noticing something attractive in them that motivates us to approach that individual. We might say that it’s attraction, or love, at first sight.


We see that dynamic in the call of the first disciples. We are told “Jesus saw Simon and his brother Andrew casting their nets into the sea... Jesus said to them, ‘Come after me, and I will make you fishers of men.’ …. He walked along a little farther and saw James, the son of Zebedee, and his brother John…. Then he called them” (Mark 1:16-20).


Seeing those four fishermen motivated Jesus to call them to follow him. Jesus must have seen something positive in them.


We see that same dynamic in the encounter with the rich man, who ultimately refused the call of Jesus. Mark writes, “Jesus, looking at him, loved him and said to him…‘Go, sell what you have…then come, follow me’” (Mark 10:21). Seeing the man motivated Jesus to love him and to invite him to be a disciple.


Throughout the Gospels, Jesus sees those who are sick, hungry, hurting, shunned, or lost in sin, and he reaches out to them. Jesus sees people, he loves them, and he responds to their needs.


In this Sunday’s Gospel (John 13:31-33a, 34-35), Jesus tells us, “I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.”


If we are to love as Jesus commands us, perhaps we need to start by striving to see people as Jesus saw them.


Jesus saw the sins, flaws, and failings of people, but he also saw them as children of the Father. He saw them as his brothers and sisters in need of mercy, compassion, healing, and hope. He saw them as people worth saving. As Matthew tells us, “At the sight of the crowds, his heart was moved with pity for them because they were troubled and abandoned, like sheep without a shepherd” (Matthew 9:36).


This Sunday, Jesus commands us to love one another as he loves us. If we are to fulfill that commandment, the first thing we need to do is to see other people as God sees them. After all, seeing leads to loving. It leads us to love at first sight.


© 2022 Rev. Thomas Iwanowski