May 10, 2015: 6th Sunday in Ordinary: Msgr. Jim Miller

Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2015

Reading 1 Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

Responsorial Psalm Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.

Reading 2 1 Jn 4:7-10

Gospel Jn 15:9-17

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I would encourage you to pull out your Bible this week and read all of Chapter 10 of the Acts of the Apostles and even Chapter 11 to better understand this first reading.   In Chapter 10 verse 28 Peter is quoted as saying, “You know that it is unlawful for a Jewish man to associate with, or visit, a Gentile, but God has shown me that I should not call any person profane or unclean.”

In today’s first reading he states, “Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him”.   This tells me that there are many good people in the world, of all nationalities and religions.   We are called to share our faith with each other and learn from each other how to better live as disciples of Jesus Christ.   God loves and accepts all who stand in awe before God regardless of their race, gender, social status, age or background.  This was a lesson Peter learned well, but not without difficulty.

It is interesting that these Gentiles received the Holy Spirit before they were baptized.   For us we first baptize then celebrate Confirmation.   God is concerned about loving His children, not protocol, and offering us the opportunity to love in return.

In the second reading and the gospel we hear about love.   In fact the word “love” is used nine times in today’s gospel!  Jesus says he loves us in the same way that his Father loves him.  Think about that for a while.   Then he says “remain in my love.”   There is so much to learn from God but we have to be connected to him in order to learn.   Remember what it is like to not have a hot spot for your computer or notebook or not have reception for your cell phone.   That is nothing compared to the times we are not connected to our God.

God is love and God wants us to love.   God has loved us first.   God has chosen us.  We have a choice to accept God’s love and to share it with others.   We have the command to love one another.   Too often we find ourselves self-centered.   God’s love is agape.   Agape is a decision to love someone.   Despite what we feel about someone we have an attitude of care and concern.   It is a love that is active, that wishes well, that reaches out and is a love that is sacrificial.  This love of Jesus is so powerful it includes the willingness to lay down His life for us.  This is the love that is the mark of the true Christian disciple, the love that is willing to sacrifice.

Many people ask why Catholics keep the body of Jesus on the cross.  There are several reasons, not the least among them is that the crucifix is the symbol of Christian love, the symbol of sacrificial love.  The crucifix not only tells us what Jesus did for us, it tells us what we are supposed to do!

God’s love is expressed in a person and in an event in which God has taken the initiative.  Human love, expressed in concrete acts is the proper response to God’s love.

Saint Augustine wrote: “without love, everything else that is good is no help, and you cannot have love without bringing with it all those other good things that make a person truly good.”

Jean Vanier wrote:  “To bear fruit is to bring life to people.  Not to judge, not to condemn, but to forgive.  It is to remove our neighbor’s burden.”

From whom do we learn the real meaning of joy and love?  From self-giving mothers and fathers, from the serenity of those who suffer chronic pain, from patient teachers, from hospice caregivers, from those who are faithful to their life commitments, from someone who lives out of deep faith, etc.

Nobody is perfect but we can improve throughout life to love better.   Thank you, God, for loving us first.  Let us take time to remember and thank the people who have taught us how to love.