9 As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love. 10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. 11 I have said these things to you so that my joy may be in you, and that your joy may be complete. 12 “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. 13 No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. 14 You are my friends if you do what I command you. 15 I do not call you servants any longer, because the servant does not know what the master is doing; but I have called you friends, because I have made known to you everything that I have heard from my Father. 16 You did not choose me but I chose you. And I appointed you to go and bear fruit, fruit that will last, so that the Father will give you whatever you ask him in my name. 17 I am giving you these commands so that you may love one another. – John 15:9-17
Jesus introduced a new commandment, superseding all others: that we love one another. What does that love look like?
Jon Bruno, Bishop of Los Angeles, was once a player for the Denver Broncos. Afterwards, he became a policeman. One day on his beat he witnessed a gang shooting in which a 14-year-old shot and killed a 12-year-old at point blank range. To Officer Bruno fell the awesome task of telling the victim’s mother. The murderer was not apprehended.
Fast forward a few years. Officer Bruno is in the same town but now is Father Jon Bruno. The victim’s mother is in his parish.
One night, a young man knocks persistently on Bruno’s door. “Father,” he says, “I must talk with you.”
The young man pours out his heart saying that he cannot live with himself, that years earlier he killed a boy at point blank range. Take me to jail, Father,” he said.
“First,” Bruno replied, “you must go with me to meet your victim’s mother.”
When they arrive, she greets her rector and the young man and serves them some cookies and tea. Sensing something very serious, she says, “I know that you two did not come just to have tea and cookies with an old lady. What is this about?”
Father Bruno signals to the young man to sit opposite the mother where they are eye-to-eye.
The young man can hardly speak as through tears he tells her what he did. “I know that you can’t possibly forgive me, but I want you to know that I am so, so sorry,” he says. “I cannot live with myself, and I have asked Father to take me to jail.”
The old woman stood and went to the window. “It seemed like forever,” Bruno said when he told this story. Then she came back and again sat opposite, eye to eye with the young man.
“Young man, you are not going to jail. There is only one thing that you have to do.”
Incredulous, he responded, “What’s that?”
“You have to become my son.”
I believe in the Holy Spirit. I have seen the Holy Spirit happen.
This piece is part of Louie’s Queer Eye for the Lectionary as part of his reflections on all the texts assigned in the Revised Common Lectionary for Sunday, May 17th, the Sixth Sunday of Easter.
A prolific author and lifelong campaigner for the acceptance and inclusion of LGBT people by Christians and in the mainline church, Louie Clay founded IntegrityUSA, a gay-acceptance group within the Episcopal Church, while teaching at Fort Valley State University in 1974. He married Ernest Clay in 1974 and then again in 2013, when marriage equality had become the law of the land. Known as Louie Crew for most of his life, he took his partner’s surname in his later years.