April 24, 2016

A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER  – CYCLE “C”  –  4.24.16   –  SMG

+ Pax et Bonum!   Peace and Goodness to you this day!

Growing up Catholic in the late 1960’s and early 1970’s, as I know that many of here did, one of the messages we heard loud and clear from the Church, over and over again, was God is Love.  And God loves us.  Maybe it was because after the Vatican II, the Church wasn’t sure what to teach its children, and so it went back to that most basic of messages from the Gospel.  And so we sang about God’s love.  We made banners and posters about God’s love.  We stenciled and silk-screen printed “God is Love” on T-Shirts.  We put on plays about God’s love.  We watched film strips about God’s love.  We played games about God’s love.  We might not have learned the Glorious Mysteries of the Rosary, or the Seven Deadly Sins, or the Corporal Works of Mercy, but we got down very well, that God is Love, and that God loves us.  And you know, there’s nothing really wrong with this message, this theology.  After all, St. John did base his entire Gospel and theology upon this same teaching.  God is Love.  We are to love Him with our whole hearts, our whole minds, our whole lives, and all our strength!  It’s not a bad place to start your learning or your relationship with God.  There’s just a lot more to the story, once you get this love thing down.

Jesus today sounds a little like a post-conciliar Catechist from the 1970’s.  Don’t worry, we won’t be making any banners today!  He says though, I give you a new commandment: Love one another as I have loved you.  Jesus even says that the very way that people will know whether or not we are His followers, is by our love, or by our lack thereof.  Do we get the ramifications of what Jesus is saying?  Our love, our compassion, our caring, will be what defines us as His followers.  This is a whole new teaching and a whole new way of life, based upon the Love of God!

What we need to see now is that God is ushering in a new creation.  He is sculpting us, molding us, and fashioning us as his new sons and daughters.  We need to step back and look at the big picture.  We need to acknowledge the way that things were BEFORE Christ, and now the way that things are AFTER Christ.  Because of Jesus, we have a new status in our relationship with God!

All of this points to the fact that we must eyes to see and ears to hear.  We cannot be passive in our Faith! We can’t think that, well, God will give it all to us anyway, even if we don’t respond to Him!  That’s a very dangerous gamble, my brothers and sisters!  There is NOTHING passive about being a follower of Jesus Christ!  No!  We must actively listen.  We must actively respond.  We must put our Faith and our Love into action in our daily lives, the gifts that God has given us.  And that is going to be based upon our love:  our love of God and our love for one another!

We must get better at loving God.  We must get better at loving one another.  We must get better at loving our families, our friends, and our neighbors.  We must get better at loving our enemies and forgiving those who have hurt us.  We must get better at loving as a Church, as a community, and welcoming people to our Parish family.  The Call to love is NOT optional.   It is a New commandment!  Is the way that we, all of us, are supposed to be living every day!

The world that we live in, flies in the face of that Love that we are called to make the very heart of our lives every day.  It is not easy by any means.  But we have a Savior Who has shown us how to love, and Who understands how difficult it to love in this world.  But Christ knows that it is not impossible either!   The choice is up to us!

The Good News of the Resurrection is that God has ushered in, in His new creation, a whole new way of doing things, a whole new way of loving!  How are we going to respond to His love and mercy?  It’s got to be more than just words.  It’s got to be more than banners or posters.  It’s got to be more than just worldly love.  It’s got to be the kind of love that lasts forever!

We know about that kind of love from Jesus Himself!  Let us live every day to share it with others!

+  May God bless us this day,  Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…                                  AMEN !!!