Deacon Tom’s Homily 6th Sunday of Easter, Cycle B

Friends, today we celebrate Mothers Day. When we think of our mothers, we usually think of and remember their love, their many sacrifices, and then how they loved us, no matter what. How fitting that the theme of our second reading and of our Gospel is all about Jesus’ command to love.   Today’s gospel goes straight to the heart of every thing, but you know, it especially goes directly to the heart of Christian life. It speaks to us about the commandment, the only commandment, the commandment of love. Love of God and love of one another. But, could love truly be a command, a law, or an order? Can anyone force us or order us to love? Certainly not! In truth, love is something that comes from within the person, not from an order received from someone else.

In the service, orders are given and executed and the same or similar can happen at work. But no one can order how or what we should feel for those around us. That is something different.

Jesus knows that this is something different. Jesus knows because he has experienced the love of God.

Moreover, Jesus has experienced that God is love.

Jesus’ presence in our world is the concrete sign of that love of God for each one of us, and that love is what gives us life. The love of God created this world and keeps it in existence despite the many abuses we commit against it and against one another. Jesus speaks about the commandment of love because he knows that God loved us first and because we are creatures of love. Love, as the second reading tells us, does not spring from ourselves, but from God.

God is the origin of love, God is the origin of that vital spring that none of us can live without.

There is no way to place barriers to that love that comes from God either. There are no Jews or pagans for God. That is why the Holy Spirit is poured out on all in the reading of the Acts of the Apostles today. God goes beyond norms and traditions. His love is stronger than any human law. God gives himself to each and every one of us.

Today’s readings do speak to us today about the great commandment of love. But in reality they invite us to look at the love with which God loves us and cares for us. For, it is out of that experience that our own love will spring forth, it is out of that experience that we get our capacity to love and to give life to those around us.

This could be compared with trying to convince someone that not attending Mass on Sundays is a sin.

It is far better to invite that person to come to our community, to help that person enjoy the celebration of the Mass with the wonderful music and our friendly community, and our great encounter with Jesus.

If that happens, he or she is likely to come back. However, if we threaten them with sin and damnation, they are likely to never come back.

Something similar happens with love. No one will love under the threat of a fine or punishment. But they are likely to love if they have felt loved and have been respected by those around them. My friends, today is the time for us to make those who live with us, those who work with us, those who worship with us, those whose lives we touch in any way, know about the great love that God has for them. Today is the time for each of us to share the love God gives us with each other. Once we have shared that gift of love, then we can say we have experienced love.

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