A HOMILY FOR THE FIFTH SUNDAY OF EASTER – CYCLE “C” – MAY 19TH, 2019 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
If you belong to an NFL fantasy football league, one would probably presume that you like professional football. If you are a member of the Kelly Clarkson fan club, one probably presume that you like the music of Kelly Clarkson. Did you hear that she was going to sing the National Anthem next Sunday at the race? Kelly Clarkson is going to be right here in Indiana! Can you believe it? I used to have the biggest crush on her. If you’re going to the race next weekend, you’re probably a race fan. If you are a member of the Ronald McDonald birthday club, you probably like to go to McDonald’s on your birthday for a free ice cream sundae. If you pay to belong to a gym, you probably want to get into shape, or stay in shape physically. If you belong to the AARP, you get a magazine every month and you get discounts that save you money as an older person. We’re all getting there, aren’t we?
The fact is, that you belong to a certain group or organization, and it’s going to come with defining goals and expectations. You don’t join a choir if you can’t sing. You don’t sign up for a golf outing IF you don’t play golf. You don’t join the gourmet club, if you eat pasta out of a can! Sometimes, who we are, and what we are, gets defined by the organizations that we belong, the values that we share, and the highest definition of what’s most important, IF you are going to call yourself something or belong to a certain group.
We come to Mass today on this Fifth Sunday of our Easter season, and we get this pivotal Gospel reading that is defining out for us, exactly what is going to identify us as followers of Jesus Christ. And did you notice, it’s not a cross around our necks! And it’s not memorizing the Bible. And it’s not a Christ Renews His Parish shirt. And it’s not a bumper sticker, or a license plate, or a license plate frame. It’s not even a picture of the Pope, or a Rosary, or the receipt that proves that you gave to Fruitful Harvest! The very thing that defines you and me, all of us, as followers of Jesus Christ is our love and our compassion. Remember the song? They will know we are Christians by our love, by our love, oh they will know we are Christians by our love!
Jesus is telling us the exact same thing in our Gospel reading! You want to be a Catholic Christian? You want to be a follower of Jesus Christ? You want to follow Jesus as the Way, the Truth, and the Life? Then you have better be ready to love your brothers and sisters, and to be compassionate towards all! Because that, my brothers and sisters, is the hallmark of being a Christian. It’s the way that we have to live our lives, if we want to follow Him.
And the Gospel is not talking about just being nice to someone. Nice is the bare minimum! What this Gospel is talking about is radical, unconditional, sacrificial love! AGAPE! It’s talking about the kind of love that Jesus has for us!
And we hear this, and all of a sudden this love business is a whole lot harder! You mean, I can’t just give someone the Sign of Peace, and that’s enough? How about if I pray an “Our Father” for them, is that enough? Or what if I volunteer and work in the food pantry once a month, is that enough? No. None of those things are enough! Did you just hear those words in this Gospel text? As I have loved you, so you also should love one another! How can we love like that? I don’t even want to let that driver cut in on the 161st Street exit on US 31? How am I going to love them?
Well, first of all, we have Jesus’ example. He has shown us how to do it. It might not be easy, but it’s not impossible, and He has done it before us. We just keep striving to love everybody with our whole hearts. And secondly, we’ve got this promised Holy Spirit thing, that makes all the difference in the world! Just when we think that we can’t love like Jesus calls us to do, is exactly when the Holy Spirit gives us exactly what we need, to love more than we ever could possibly imagine! It’s true! We can’t love like that on our own. But with God’s help, you will be amazed at how much, and who, you can radically love.
Today, as we hear these words, and as we ponder His new commandment, we need to ask ourselves whether or not love is at the heart of our lives? And knowing that we can do all things with God’s help, let us commit to really loving God and loving our neighbor. It truly is what we do as Catholic Christians. May real love be the hallmark of our lives!
+ God bless us this day, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!