Fr. Rick’s Homily – 6th Sunday of Easter
Acts 10:25…48; Ps 98:1-4; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17
May 9, 2021
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”
John 1:18 No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God,* who is at the Father’s side, has revealed him. “Side” on His bosom.
John 13:5 Then he poured water into a basin and began to wash the disciples’ feet and dry them with the towel around his waist.
John 13:23 One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved,* was reclining at Jesus’ side. On His bosom.
John 15:10 If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.
John 15:15 I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends,* because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
If we are to love others as Jesus loved us, we must be as specific as possible as to how Jesus loved us. AND that He loved us first. To whatever extent we can love ourselves or others is completely dependent on the fact that Jesus loved us first.
So how did Jesus love us? To further understand this essential teaching, we should consider the place of today’s reading from the 15th chapter in the Gospel of John. This conversation has occurred shortly after the Last Supper which is presented in the 13th chapter. Recall that after the Passover meal Jesus made a gesture that was radically different than any other in authority, let alone a religious teacher or a king. Jesus washed the feet of the disciples as a symbol of the service oriented nature of Christian leadership. Humble service is an implicit form of Christian love.
Keeping the commandments is also an essential element of ‘remaining’ in God’s love. This brings into the mix the idea of legitimate authority; it points to the Church as an essential element of God’s love. We cannot love like Jesus or the Father without the guidance of the Church. Even though we are held to obedience and faithfulness, this authority that comes from the commandments enables us to feel the fullness of God’s joy. As Jesus says ‘that our joy may be complete.’ Commandments are not intended to oppress us or manipulate us. It’s to set us free from the constant domineering behavior that is part of our fallen human nature.
Jesus loves us as a friend. Friendships are reciprocal. True friends want to serve more than to be served, but both sides are essential. God designed us to need each other. Ultimately we are created to make a total self-gift to another and to receive their gift. This is not possible without God’s grace. As Jesus told us last week, “You can do nothing without me.”
Jesus loves us intimately. In 13:23 we heard that, “One of his disciples, the one whom Jesus loved, was reclining at Jesus’ side.” We also see in Chapter one of John that, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, God, who is at the Father’s side, has revealed it to us.” Scholars say that the Greek word for ‘by the side’ is more accurately translated as ‘on His bosom.’ I don’t suppose that this is a particularly alluring image for most heterosexual men, but it has a broader and deeper meaning. The ‘beloved disciple’ is not specifically named in this instance, so we can see him as a representative for all of us. Being at the Father’s and the Son’s bosom gives us an even more personal image of the experience we are being drawn into. The Father and the Son want us to feel this transcended level of trust, vulnerability and comfort. More than the other Gospels, John takes on a more mystical theme which describes and prefigures the deeply personal and transcended experience for which we are actually created. This level of love relationship is what humans most yearn for; it is what we are created for.
We cannot get there on our own. As mentioned last week, Bishop Solis has directed us to put a more deliberate effort into preparing for Pentecost Sunday this year which is observed on May 23. We are reminded that the gifts of the Holy Spirit need to be cultivated and actually used to help make the world look more like heaven than hell. It is this transcended experience of love and life coming through the sacraments that will pull us out of our endlessly horizontal and polarized way of thinking. THEN, we can begin to solve our human-made problems. Without God’s wisdom, knowledge, understanding and strength, we are hopelessly stuck.
Please join us for the Novena to the Holy Spirit beginning next Friday that is printed in today’s bulletin. We are living in a time of great transition and transformation. GOD IS WITH US!!
Mother’s Day blessing at end of Mass…..
Gracious and loving God, we ask you to shower your special blessings on these faithful women, our mothers. We raise our prayers of gratitude for their gifts of wisdom, understanding, knowledge, strength and zeal for their faith. We ask you for your continued protection, and your blessings of good health and cheer, especially during this next year. May they feel the depth of our appreciation for their place in our lives. We thank you and ask all these things in the name of your Son Jesus Christ. Amen