28 Apr Fifth Sunday in Easter
April 24, 2016
Father Shawn Hughes
Homilies are never the creative act of one person. Thus, in posting these homilies on St. Mary’s Cathedral’s website I would like to state first and foremost that there will be little original in the following. My homilies are a result of my prayer, reading and study as it pertains to the particular gospel of the week. Thus, I beg, borrow and steal from the wisdom of those who have gone before me and together with the Holy Spirit acting in my own prayer considering the needs of our particular parish community here at St. Mary’s, a homily appears by the weekend. If there is something that edifies you I can take no credit for it. ‘Tis the result of the work of the Holy Spirit and those from whom I have gleaned wisdom over time.
If there is something herein which you might wish to discuss I am always available and would welcome any opportunity to speak about the Scriptures and/or the Spiritual Life.
God bless you.
I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.” For many of us, the commandment of love has become so familiar that we may fail to recognize its shocking ‘newness.’
The commandment to love found in the Gospel of John is very different from the commandment to love found in the other gospels. In the gospels according to Matthew, Mark and Luke, the gospel writers have Jesus repeat the core teaching of the Old Testament covenant that is to love God and love our neighbor as ourselves. The standard or comparison made there is that our love for neighbor must correspond to our love for ourselves.
I’d like to direct your attention to this beautiful crucifixion scene in the cathedral.
But in the gospel of John, we are commanded by Jesus to love one another as he, Jesus, has loved us. Self-love no longer becomes the criteria but the criteria now is Jesus’ love for us. In the first letter of St. John, where he speaks so much of love and where he names God as Love, we find these beautiful words “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.” (1 Jn 4:10) Our weak, limited, imperfect and inadequate ‘love’ for ourselves no longer becomes the standard by which we should love others but rather Jesus’ love for us becomes the standard for how we are to love one another.
- This is the love of God that he is prepared to become man, suffer and die for us.
- This is the love of God, that he is prepared to become one of us, to share our pains and sorrows, to experience our sufferings and give us hope and encouragement in the midst of all our trials and sufferings.
- This is the love of God – that he will “wipe away all tears from (our) eyes”, destroy death and sadness.
- This is the love of God – that he will make all things new.
Love must therefore be the mark of our discipleship. As Jesus says in today’s gospel: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Today’s Psalm, # 145 describes the Love of God and therefore the Love that we are to have for one another.
The LORD is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and abounding in steadfast love.
The LORD is good to all, and his compassion is over all He has made.
Gracious, merciful, slow to anger, abounding in steadfast love. Good to all. Compassionate to all.
This is a huge standard. A standard of which we realize that we will always fall short. We will never reach this perfect standard precisely because we are not God. And that is why we must continue to support, encourage and pray for each other.
I was discussing this with a parishioner this week and she said how overwhelming this was…. His love for us was sooooo big, tooo big she said….. how can we ever love like he did.
“Behold I make all things new.” (Rev. 21:5) Even me. Even you. He makes us new in the Eucharist. We can grow in this Love.
The Eucharist educates us to this love in a deep way; it shows us, in fact, what value each person, our brother, our sister has in God’s eyes, if Christ offers himself equally to each one, under the species of bread and wine. If our Eucharistic worship is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each brother or sister sitting beside you.
Thus practically speaking,
When we sit down beside someone… here…or anywhere…this commandment of love demands of us to think…“Imagine God loved this person next to you so much, that He gave His life for them” …
to think….. “Imagine Christ offers Himself equally to this person and to me in the consecrated bread and wine.” If our Eucharistic worship, our Mass, is authentic, it must make us grow in awareness of the dignity of each brother or sister sitting beside me.”
“I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you must also love one another.”
This is how he loved us. (indicate the crucifix) Completely, self- sacrificially, totally selflessly, pouring Himself out to the end……. surrendering in obedience to the Father’s will.
We must strive to do likewise…….. “By this everyone will know you are my disciples.”
Without loving as he loved,
- no matter how well we may know the faith
- no matter how good we may be at winning arguments,
- no matter how many prayers we say…….. without choosing to enter into the transformation of our hearts that we receive from the Lord and loving as He has loved, we simply cannot consider ourselves his friends.
- This is a key reason why it is important that we know each other here at Mass. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
- This is the key reason we have such a highly developed program to visit the sick, to take Holy Communion to those who can’t get out. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
- This is the key reason why it is so important we have patience with each other, especially the mentally ill even when they are somewhat disruptive. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
- This is the key reason why we are developing respite, and parish palliative care and attending to the needs of those who are severely ill and dying. …… sitting with them overnight, giving their loved ones a break, doing their shopping for them…… assisting them with our love. The response to suffering is not to kill the person. The response to suffering, is to care for them medically and spiritually, as best as we are able, actually caring for the person until God chooses to take them. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
- This gospel is the reason we have a program in our parish for older women to assist young mothers with the caring for their newborns and young children. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
- This gospel is the reason we have catechetical programs and St. Andrew’s School of Evangelisation courses ……… to lovingly share the gospel, the good news….. to know Jesus Christ more intimately. Loving each other as Jesus loved us.
Just as Jesus has loved us, so we must also love one another.