6th Sunday of Easter (Year B)

The Father and the Son love each other with a perfect, sublime love; one so deep and life-giving that from them has proceeded the Holy Spirit.

3 young people on a sofa studying the bible together


First Reading: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

  • Cornelius is arguably the first Gentile recorded in the New Testament to become a believer in Jesus and receive the Holy Spirit. This is a significant and controversial step in salvation history. Consider the Old Testament laws that ensured the people of Israel remained separate from their neighbours.
  • Consider how, in the structure of Acts, Paul was given the mission to the Gentiles; here, however, Peter encounters Cornelius and oversees his baptism. What could that imply?

Psalm: Psalm 97(98):1-4

  • This psalm is a fitting response to the first reading, as it emphasises the universality of God’s salvation. However, the reading from Acts shows the fulfilment of this Old Testament prophecy, whereas the psalm still has an Israel-centric view. The nations of the world merely see God’s salvation in Acts; they share in it.
  • Notice the psalm’s link to God’s justice and his acts of salvation; you may want to consider how Romans 3:21 picks up this thread.

Second Reading: 1 John 4:7-10

  • The logic of John’s letter can be hard to follow at times. You might find it helpful to write out each line by hand and connect the trail of thought visually on paper. In particular, trace how John uses “love” and what he connects it to.
  • The psalm spoke of God’s justice revealed and seen in his acts of salvation; John speaks of God’s love being revealed. What is the connection between love and justice?

Gospel: John 15:9-17

  • Jesus labels friendship as the highest form of love; does this seem to be the case? How might our definition or understanding of friendship differ from that being discussed here?
  • In a similar way to the second reading, the logic can be hard to follow in this passage as well. So you may want to write it out and trace that logic. How does John connect obedience, love, and knowledge?


There’s a famous icon by Rublev entitled “The Hospitality of Abraham.” It shows three angelic figures sitting around a table. The figures represent the three persons of the Trinity. The figure representing the Father sits on our left as we look at the icon, dressed in gold outer robes symbolising kingship and blue robes symbolising divinity, sitting in front of a house representing the Father’s house of many mansions.

In the middle sits the figure representing the Son. He’s dressed in brown, symbolising the earth and his incarnation into the world, and a blue outer garment, symbolising his divinity. He sits in front of a tree, the Oak of Mamre from the Genesis account, symbolically both the tree of life and the tree of the cross.

On our right sits the figure representing the Holy Spirit, dressed in green, symbolising new life and blue robes, symbolising divinity. The Spirit is sitting in front of a wilderness outcrop, the type of wilderness where the Spirit drove Christ after his Baptism.

The figures have identical faces, but if you look closely at their eyes, you’ll notice that the Father is focused on the Son and the Son is focused on the Father. Their wings are overlapping, revealing their unique relationship to each other and to the world. This icon depicts in pigment on wood something of the unfathomable reality Jesus conveys here in just a few words: he asks us to contemplate the love that the Father has for his only begotten Son, the love that Rublev tried to convey in those glances, one to the other.

Just think about that for a moment. The Father and the Son love each other with a perfect, sublime love, one so deep and life-giving that from them has proceeded the Holy Spirit.

Nothing in this universe had to exist. God didn’t need to create anything, not angels, not the stars and planets that make up this universe, not you and me. That there is a creation at all is an unnecessary overflow of the immeasurable love in God. It’s that super-abundant, totally mind-blowing love that Jesus places in front of us at the beginning of today’s gospel. Then he says something which should knock the breath out of our lungs: just as the Father has loved Jesus, so does Jesus love us.

Don’t let that little word pass you by: “so”! Jesus loves you with the same magnitude of love that spans eternity and galaxies!


Jesus then exhorts us to remain in that love.

What is the implication? Not that he will withdraw that love, but that we would turn away from it, reject it, walk away from the table. He tells us simply not to do that: remain.


By keeping his commandments. If we jump down to the last line of today’s gospel passage, we get that command summarised: love one another.

Do you see the structure or the system that Jesus lays out here?

It begins with the Father: the Father loves the Son. The Son loves us. We love one another.

As John explains in the second reading, loving one another is evidence in this life that we have been begotten by God, that we are children of God, and that we know him.

How does Jesus sum it up here? There is no greater love than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. The type of love he commands us to have is compared with the Father’s eternal love for the Son and the love that led Jesus to the Cross.

Are you overwhelmed yet? This is tough. It demands not just a lot but everything. Are we meant to love our brothers and sisters in Christ like this?


But don’t worry. Remember Rublev’s icon? There’s a third figure, the one we said is the eternal proceeding of this extraordinary love between Father and Son that we’re meant to have for one another: the Holy Spirit.

That same Spirit comes down on all of us who, as Acts says, fear God, do what is right, and are baptised: who, in a word, sit down at the empty space at the table at the front of the icon. The Spirit makes his home within us, empowering us bit by bit to live out this otherwise impossible command. We’ll dive into that a bit more next week and even more in the following week.

Turn to that Spirit today, tomorrow, and the day after, and ask for the grace to love your brothers and sisters as the Father loves the Son and as the Son loves you. Walk in that love and experience the joy.


  • Litany of the Sacred Heart of Jesus (public litany with a focus on the love of God; a rich source of meditation)
  • CCC 1766 (Catechism of the Catholic Church): love is defined as willing the good of another
  • Benedict XVI, Deus Caritas Est: theological exploration of divine love