Monday, May 14, 2012

HOMILY Sixth Sunday of Easter Cycle B May 13, 2012

Three words in the English language that are very important are:  I LOVE YOU.  Thousands of songs and poems have been built around those three little words.  To quote Paul McCartney in his 1976 hit, “Silly Love Songs”,  You’d think that people would have had enough of silly love songs.  But I look around me and I see it isn't so.
Some people wanna fill the world with silly love songs.
And what's wrong with that?   I’d like to know, cause here I go again
I love you, I love you, I love you, I love you,…   
            They are powerful, indeed magic, words.  I LOVE YOU.  We all long to hear those words.  When is the last time you heard someone say those words to you with conviction and meaning?   When is the last time you spoke them with meaning and feeling?  It would be very, very difficult to hear or to say those words too much. 
            Well, fortunately, we get to hear them today.  In the Gospel Jesus says to his disciples, that is to you and me, “As the Father loves me, so also I love you.”  Jesus today says to each of us here, “I LOVE YOU.“
            This is a powerful, meaningful statement that calls for a response.  Jesus tells us: “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love.”  
            Lovers want to be close to each other.  The way we stay close to Jesus, the way we remain in his love, is to keep His commandments.  This is not so much a mindless subjugation of our will as rather a being with the beloved, of remaining in His love, just as Jesus keeps the Father’s commandments and remains in the Father’s love.  It is about togetherness and union.
            “I have told you this” Jesus declares, “so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”  Joy is something different than, though related to, happiness.  Happiness has an external cause.  Things are going well, we feel healthy and secure, we just finished exams or got a promotion, and we are happy.  Joy rather comes from inside, from a sense of being loved, and knowing that ultimately love and good win.  Joy is not dependant on what goes on in our life.  I have seen some people in very sad circumstances who were none-the-less filled with much joy.  Jesus wants us to have such joy.  He wants your joy to be complete: that is, full and whole and lacking in nothing.  Great Joy! 
            Jesus’ commandment is simple and difficult:  “Love one another as I love you.”  The love Jesus pours out on us must be shared.  Love grows and multiplies by being given away.  The more you love the more love you can hold.  The less you love others, the less you can contain love.  Jesus’ commandment therefore is the road map to the fullness of life.  “Love one another as I love you.”  By following Jesus’ example, we are not impoverished or made less.  Quite the opposite.  By giving ourselves away in love as Jesus does, we enrich our lives and become more. 
            Jesus today not only tells us He loves us, He also calls us “friends”.  This is NOT friends in the sense of social acquaintances.  This is not friends in the sense of Facebook contacts.  This is friend in the deepest, most enduring sense of the word – an intimate friend, a best friend forever.  Jesus is your BFF!
            We are truly fortunate and blessed to be Jesus’ intimates, His friends.  Yet this is what Jesus offers us.  Because He tells us: “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you.”  To be chosen, to be selected, to be desired is a wonderful thing.  To be chosen by Jesus is a spectacularly wonderful thing.  And yet, we are!  We are chosen by Jesus to be His friends.  As He tells us at the beginning of today’s Gospel passage:  “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.  Remain in my love.” 
            No matter what else we will accomplish, or achieve, or attain, or own, we can do no better, for now or for all eternity, than to remain in His love.  God bless!

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