6th Sunday of Easter – Cycle B (Jn 15:9-17)

Somehow it seems so fitting, so apropos, that today we celebrate and honor our mothers who despite, or perhaps because of, having suffered through the pains of labor and the agony of childbirth to bring us into this world, still love us. St. John says that “everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God” and Jesus tells us that “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” Our mothers are shining examples of the greatest act of love, the self-giving for the sake of another.

Blessed Mother Teresa

Blessed Mother Teresa

All too often we think of love as an emotion, a feeling, a state of being. We talk of “being in love” as if love is a state of mind and heart, that when we love someone it is with passion or great intensity. St. Paul reminds us that love is patient and kind, not jealous, pompous, rude or conceited. It delights in the truth. It is trusting, hopeful, and enduring, it never fails.

The truth is that love can only be expressed through action. To love or to be loved requires one to give of one’s self to another or to receive the gift of self from another, freely and unearned.

Mothers are like that, aren’t they? Despite the sleepless nights, the dirty diapers, the near constant demands to be fed they lovingly caress, sooth, change, and feed their child, never asking for anything in return. All the love, freely given, to a generally ungrateful, demanding, self-centered small human being whose sole redeeming quality is that he or she is cute. Now if that isn’t love, I do not know what love is.

Infinitely greater than a mother’s love is God’s love. God loves us, we are his creation, created in his image and no matter what we do He still loves us. His love is without condition, beyond measure, for no reason other than we are His to love. Jesus asks us to remain in his love by keeping his commandment and there is only one—that we love one another, a commandment that is simple yet far from easy to do.

It is easy to love those who are near to us, who know us and love us. But far more difficult to love those who hate us or those whom we don’t like or those to whom we might resent or hold a grudge? But that is exactly what Jesus commands us to do.

Several years ago, during one of our diaconate formation weekends, we were presented with a number of social issues, generally global in scope, and asked to discuss how we might help alleviate the situations. After much discussion and debate, we realized how frustratingly difficult, if not impossible, it would be to conquer global poverty, feed the hungry masses, end war and tyranny, and bring peace to all.

Love shows itself in small acts. We have a small wall hanging in one of our bedrooms at home that contains a quote from Blessed Mother Teresa. I see it often and it reminds me of how we are called to acts of love. She said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love.”

Blessed Mother Teresa was a very wise and saintly woman. While serving the poorest of the poor in the slums of Calcutta, she became known throughout the entire world, instantly recognizable, a reluctant celebrity, a humble superstar. When she was awarded the Nobel Peace prize she was asked “What can we do to promote world peace?” She answered “Go home and love your family.” Now that is something we all can do. Her approach to life and loving and serving others was simple yet effective.

On poverty she said “We think sometimes that poverty is only being hungry, naked and homeless. The poverty of being unwanted, unloved and uncared for is the greatest poverty. We must start in our own homes to remedy this kind of poverty.”

On hunger she observed that “It is easy to love the people far away. It is not always easy to love those close to us. It is easier to give a cup of rice to relieve hunger than to relieve the loneliness and pain of someone unloved in our own home. Bring love into your home for this is where our love for each other must start.”

On global problems she commented that “Jesus said love one another. He didn’t say love the whole world.”

And on loving the stranger, the prisoner, the unwanted, the unloved she tells us “Each one of them is Jesus in disguise.” And if that doesn’t cause you to pause, to consider loving one another as Jesus loves us, then nothing will. St. John tells us that “Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love.” We have a choice whether to love one another or not, but failure to love one another prevents us from having an intimate relationship with God.

Blessed Mother Teresa said it best when she explained “I am not sure exactly what heaven will be like, but I know that when we die and it comes time for God to judge us, he will not ask, ‘How many good things have you done in your life?’ rather he will ask, ‘How much love did you put into what you did?

As mothers love their children, we must love one another. It is what Jesus commands us to do. It is all that he commands us to do. So today, as we celebrate and honor our mothers, let us offer a smile to someone and give them the gift of love. To mothers everywhere, Happy Mother’s Day!

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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