Thursday, June 3, 2021 at 4:25 PM
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Homily, 6th Sunday of Easter

Sixth Sunday of Easter   

Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

Many people do not look forward to a performance review as we know they can go in a number of different ways. Sometimes they can be short and sweet --- the kind that simply take a minute or two and end with, Nice job.  Keep doing what you’re doing.  Sign here.”  Others can be very detailed and take a long time.  These are the kinds in which the supervisor has both a copy of the job description and the list of expectations and demands of the particular position right in front of him or her.  The Supervisor goes through the list one by one, making comments on each item along the way.  Hopefully, the person being evaluated knew in advance what those expectations were, and therefore isn’t expecting any surprises!  But there is another kind of performance review, the kind in which the employee is completely in the dark about the things mentioned. Such situations can be frustrating! The employee might say; “I didn’t even know that was my responsibility” . . .

What do you think the job description for being a Christian is?  What exactly would that list look like?  Would it be long or short?  What are God’s expectations of us?  Would it be . . . .?

  • How many prayers we said?
  • How many devotions we participated in?
  • How many parish activities we went to?
  • How often we read our Bible?
  • How much money we gave to our parish?
  • Whether or not we followed our Lenten regulations?
  • Do these provide evidence of faithfulness? Yes and No.

Are these only the benchmarks? I think you know the answer. “Whoever is without love does not know God . . ..”

Dear friends, it is sometimes easy for us to forget the obvious when it comes to following Jesus.  We can easily mistake the job description for something it is not, or to place certain things at the top of the list that should be much further down. In a real sense, there is one item on the job description which --- if it is not at the TOP of the list, renders the others on the list relatively unimportant.  And that is: Love.  

The word love appears in today’s second reading and the Gospel a total of eighteen times. Both readings are telling us that we cannot live a life of faith without love.  Every activity mentioned above is good, holy, meaningful, and worthwhile, things you and I love dearly. They are important only to the degree to which they help us be better lovers— love unconditionally and love continuously without counting the cost. Love is what God wants, expects, and demands --- not because HE needs it. God loves us, not because we are good but because he is good. Our very existence is a sign of God’s love. All we have to do is to receive it, and then try to share it with others. Love is our most important responsibility.

In today’s gospel, Jesus asks us to love one another as he loved us; to put others before ourselves, to seek our joy in bringing joy to others, to honor and cherish others simply because they are sons and daughters of the God of mercy and compassion.  He asks us: Love one another -with no qualifications, conditions, or limitations. Love one another- without judgment, measurements or expectations of a return. Love one another-even the undeserving, the mean-spirited, the ungrateful and the unreasonable. Such love can be overwhelmingly demanding, but such self-sacrificing love, in imitation of Jesus, brings unparalleled joy. That is why parents make sacrifices because they love their children and friends walk with friends through trials and sufferings.

Cornelius, in today’s first reading was a recently converted Roman centurion, and normally, an observant Jew like Peter, would not enter the house of a Gentile. But Peter’s focus was on others, not on himself. Peter still was astounded to see the Holy Spirit descend upon these Gentiles just as it had on the disciples. We heard Peter declare; “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”. So too, may the Holy Spirit astonish us when we reach out to others outside our comfort zone. Love becomes real in the decisions we make, and in the actions that follow-- it is in activity not in words that love is realized.

This week:

  • think of one small thing you can do to ease the burdens of your friend or spouse.
  • think of one small thing you can do to make your coworker’s job just a little bit easier.
  • think of one small thing you can do to bring some encouragement and joy into your parents' lives
  • think of a friend or relative who is suffering and think of one small thing you can do to help support them.

“Whoever is without love does not know God ....”

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