Homily – 6th Sunday Easter B 5/13/12
Beloved, let us love one another.
Whoever is without love does not know God,
for God is love.
In this is love, not that we have loved,
but that we have been loved,
that God has loved us, unconditionally.
This is my commandment,
love one another, as I love you.
This I command you (and only this),
love one another.
That’s a whole lot of love in today’s readings: seventeen times is the word love mentioned, nine times its Jesus himself using that four letter word.
Love in the Christian religion is of primary importance:
St. Augustine goes so far as to say “Love, and do what you will” – i.e. “love, and you’re free to do whatever you desire.” for the person who truly loves will only desire to will and do what is truly good and holy.
And the great Spanish Poet, St. John of the Cross says “In the evening of your life, you will be examined in love.” Meaning that when we die and come face to face with Jesus, we will be judged on how well we loved others in this life.
As love is of the primary importance, it is very essential therefore that we know what love is, and that we try to love.
And so then, what is love? What does Jesus and the Scriptures mean by “Love”?
Well, first of all, if what St. John says is true, if
God is Love, then probably none of us humans will ever fully understand the great mystery of love.
Probably a lot of what we think is love really isn’t love, and a lot of what we think isn’t love really is.
To put it another way, the times that we have loved the most truly and have grown the most in the way of love might very well have been the times we didn’t feel those warm and fuzzy feeling that we call love,
and the times when we’ve felt the most loving might very well have been the times we in reality loved the least.
Christ says: This I command you: Love one another.
What is love? Perhaps the best definition of love ever to be written comes from St. Paul in His First Letter to the Corinthians Chapter 13, which is read at most every wedding ceremony, both Catholic and non-Catholic.
St. Paul prefaces his definition by saying “I could have great wisdom and knowledge, I could have great faith to move mountains, and I could sacrifice my whole life – but if I don’t have love, none of that matters, I have nothing.” But if I have love, I have everything!
And then he tells us: Love is first and foremost – Patient.
Its interesting how St. Paul puts that first. He gives us 14 more things that love is, but before them all, Love must be Patient. The true lover must be patient, must have patience.
The secretary at my last parish used to say “Patience is a virtue, possess it if you can, seldom in a woman, never in a man!”
That’s probably true for short term patience, like waiting in a traffic jam or in a grocery line, but St. Paul more means long term patience, what’s also called long-suffering, endurance.
Today we celebrate Mother’s Day, and really what we probably all honor most in our Mothers is this patient, long-suffering, enduring unconditional love Mother’s have for us their children.
Moms aren’t born patient; they learn patience by experience, they exercise patience time and time again raising their kids, and watching them after they have grown. Their patience muscles are really in tone!
St. Monica patron of Mothers, was patient for 30 years as she prayed and wept over her wayward son St. Augustine, until he finally had a big conversion and turned his life around. How many Monica Moms there are in the world, thanks be to God!
But not only is maternal love called to be patient, all human love requires great patience, long-suffering, endurance.
Parents and priests give chastity talks to young people. And Christs whole teaching on chastity can be summed up in three words: True Love Waits. Love is Patient. If one can’t be patient and wait until marriage, it’s not true love, and one is lying to oneself that it is.
Those called to marriage vocation wait until marriage to consummate their love with their beloved, while those called to a celibate life wait until the next life to consummate their love with God their beloved.
There’s the beautiful passage in Genesis 29 v. 20, which says Jacob served (Laban) seven years for (the hand of his daughter) Rachel, yet they seemed to him but a few days because of his love for her.
And those of us already in a vocation must be patient and long suffering with our spouse and our own weaknesses, as Love takes a lifetime to come to full flower.
As we celebrate this Mother’s Day Mass, let us turn to our Blessed Mother Mary. Today is actually the Feast of Our Lady of Fatima, the day Mary first Miraculously appeared to the three shepherd children in Fatima Portugal, May 13, 1917 – and it was actually a Sunday also that year, the second Sunday of May and therefore Mother’s Day when Mary came to us and asked us to pray the Rosary each day for Peace and an end to all war.
May we this Mother’s Day ask our Blessed Mother Mary to bless our Mothers, and to obtain for us all that Patient, Long-suffering Love she showed us at the Cross: that we may have patience to endure amidst trials and setbacks, that we may be patient with our own weakness as Jesus is with us, that we may patiently wait for the Lord to act in His time not ours,
that we may truly fulfill Her Son Jesus’ commandment to truly Love one another as I have loved you.