Sixth Sunday of Easter, (April 27, 2008) John 14: 15-21
Jesus said to his disciples: “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” With these words the Gospel for this Sixth Sunday of Easter begins. Jesus seems to be stating the obvious here. How could I love him and not keep his commandments? How can I love my mother and not be obedient to her wishes? Both of the last two statements sound like contradictions, don’t they? And just maybe they sound like contradictions because they are. Love and disobedience do not go together.
The word obey comes from the Latin oboedire which means to listen to, to hear. If I love you, I am going to listen to you, hear you, and furthermore I am going to follow what you say, I am going to make it my own. Jesus tells us in Scripture in Luke 11:28: “Rather blessed are those who hear the word of Go and observe it.” We do not love someone if we disobey what they tell us to do. I do not love God or Jesus if I repeatedly go my own way and disobey the commandments. Disobedience to God is what we commonly refer to as a sin. Sin and love are contradictory terms.
Needless to say, rationalization will play a big part in all of this. I don’t want to disobey someone and not love them by so doing, so I rationalize my actions. If they only knew the circumstances I find myself in, they would approve of my apparent disobedience. Sometimes that may be true but many times it is not and just amounts to a self-given permission to do what I want to do and to hell with what anyone else wants me to do. I did this for years when I was drinking. Sure, I had promised God to do this or that, but he’ll understand if I do the opposite this time. Quite obviously, we are treading on very thin ice when we do this.
Teens get into this dilemma a lot concerning curfews laid down by their parents. “Be home by 10:00.” “OK, Mom.” I heard one on TV the other evening about a rather resourceful teen who set all the clocks in the house back a half hour to give herself more time to make the curfew. Then she set them all back to the correct time by the next morning. Clever, but it amounts to disobedience all the same.
Jesus and the Father have given us their commandments. If we wish to follow their way, we must be obedient to them. It only makes sense this way.
And besides, we are only going to attain the happiness and peace and serenity we want in life by following Jesus’ way. My love for him brings many wonderful rewards. The moral of this whole story is not to play games with those we say we love. I tried this for years and was not really happy doing it. The way to happiness is obedience: if we say we are going to do something or agree to do something, then, by golly, let’s do it. We must be true to ourselves and to those whom we love.
Monday of the Sixth Week of Easter, (April 28, 2008) John 15: 26 – 16: 4
The obedience we spoke of in yesterday’s homily sometimes carries a price tag along with it. I spoke a while back about one of the priest-clericmasters I had in the seminary who would give us a distasteful job to do and when he saw the frown on our faces as we set out to do it, he would begin to sing that old song: “I Didn’t Promise You a Rose Garden,” or something like that. That would cause us to start laughing and the job went a bit easier. Jesus was obedient to the will of his Father as we read often in the Scriptures and his life wasn’t exactly a rose garden either. In saying yes to the Father he also said yes to being scourged, crowned with thorns, carrying a heavy cross and being crucified upon it for our sake; hardly a rose garden.
The same is true for all of us. Jesus asked us to follow him and his way but this doesn’t mean we will not have troubles in life; sickness, addictions, disappointments, sadness, grief, death, divorce, temptations, etc., will all happen as we continue to follow him. But he has promised that he will not leave us orphans. He has promised to be there for us. He will make sure we have the grace and strength of perseverance. All we have to do is ask him.
Tuesday of the Sixth Week of Easter, (April 29, 2008) John 16: 5-11
In today’s Gospel selection, Jesus tells his disciples that he is now going to return to the one who sent him, the Father. He realizes this news that they are going to lose him brings grief to their hearts. He tells them that he must
go so he can send them the Spirit of Truth who will enable them, strengthen them, to carry on the work he has given them to do. They will be transformed into different people upon receiving the gifts of the Spirit. God has already told them he will not leave them orphans and will continue to be with them in spirit if not physically.
The Advocate, the Consoler, the Truth, the Paraclete is coming. On the second Sunday of May, May 11, we will celebrate the Feast of Pentecost and will read of the tremendous change that this brings to the disciples. It should cause us to think today of our own reception of the Spirit in the Sacrament of Confirmation. We, too, have benefited from this spiritual awakening and have begun to be different, growing, mature Christian people. Let’s reflect for a time today on all this and on how we have changed over time to be better disciples, followers of Jesus.
Wednesday of the Sixth Week of Easter, (April 30, 2008) John 16: 12-15
Jesus is now ready to ascend to the Father. His work on earth has been accomplished. But before he leaves the disciples, he tells them, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. But when he comes, the Spirit of Truth, he will guide you to all truth.” There is much that Jesus wished to share with his followers, but they “couldn’t bear it now.” They were not mature enough in the ways of God yet to understand or grasp all that he had to tell them. Jesus is not saying they were “stupid” or anything like that. He is simply telling them they would mature and grow and be ready to know things in the future they could not understand where they were at present.
The same thing is true of all of us. We don’t introduce a three year old child to Trigonometry. They aren’t ready for that yet. I certainly understand the Gospel and Christianity better today than I did in the fifth grade. I have grown and matured as have we all. Fact is, I am never too old to learn and I hope we will all be aware of that. I continue to grow in the nuances of spirituality, in my relationship with God and in regarding his importance in my life. I hope this applies to all of us.
Thursday of the Sixth Week of Easter, (May 1, 2008) St. Joseph the Worker
(NOTE: All U.S. ecclesiastical provinces, except Boston, Hartford, New York, Newark, Philadelphia, and the State of Nebraska, have transferred the celebration of the Ascension to the 7th Sunday of Easter, May 4. If transferred, Thursday, May 1, is observed either as an Easter Weekday or the optional memorial of St. Joseph the Worker).
On May 1, 1955, Pope Pius XII instituted the Feast of St. Joseph the Worker. This day is dedicated to the dignity of labor and to paying honor to all the workers of the world.
In the Book of Genesis 2: 15, we read: “The Lord God then took man and settled him in the Garden of Eden, to cultivate and care for it.” God himself “worked” at the creation of the world and on the seventh day he rested from his labors. Work is part of the creation of God and it is part of human nature to work. After the disobedience of Adam and Eve, humankind was consigned to work by the sweat of their brow. God the Father created all things and asked humankind to participate in the continuing work of creation. Human beings find their dignity in their work, in raising a family, and thus participating in God’s work of creation.
Let us remember today to pray for all workers. The efforts of the individuals benefit the whole of the Mystical Body of Christ. It is through our gifts and talents that we work and thus benefit our neighbor by our efforts. Let us pray that all workers may be blessed by God for their efforts and that those who are without work may be blessed to find it.
Friday of the Sixth Week of Easter, (May 2, 2008) John 16: 20-23
Jesus said to his disciples: “Amen, amen, I say to you, you will weep and mourn, while the world rejoices; you will grieve, but your grief will become joy.” The words of Scripture mean much more to me when I can identify with them in my own life. And I can readily identify with the words just quoted above from today’s Gospel. For many years I followed the ways of the world, doing things my own way. Outwardly I thought I was having a
good time but inwardly I was grieving and suffering because I had left the way of the Lord for my own way. Life was not going the way I thought it would. Then, because of my wrongdoing, things really collapsed and I was reintroduced to the way, truth and life of Jesus where eventually and to this day I found happiness, peace and joy. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel “your grief will become joy.” And this has come true in my life.
There is no explanation on this earth for many of the riddles that confront the human race such as why must we suffer and why is there evil in the world. But surely one answer to the above questions is to make us better people and to help us encounter God in our lives. From your grief will come true joy. I believe this is true and have found it to be so in my own life. Have you found this to be true in your life?
Saturday of the Sixth Week of Easter, (May 3, 2008) Saints Philip and James
St. Philip was born in Bethsaida, Galilee. Many believe he was a disciple of John the Baptist and he is mentioned as one of the Apostles in the synoptic Gospels and the Acts of the Apostles. He was called to be a disciple by Jesus himself and he was responsible for bringing Nathaniel (Bartholomew) to Christ’s attention. Philip was present at the miracle of the loaves and fishes. According to tradition he preached the Gospel in Greece and was crucified upside down under the Roman Emperor Domitian.
St. James the Less was the author of the first Catholic Epistle and was the son of Alphaeus of Cleophas. His mother’s name was Mary and she was either a sister or a close relative of the Blessed Virgin. For this reason, James is sometimes referred to as the brother of the Lord. He occupied a place of distinction in the early Christian community and was a witness of the resurrection of Christ. James the Less was the first Bishop of Jerusalem and martyred by the Jews in the spring of the year 62. His feast day is celebrated, along with St. Philip, on May 3.
Saints Philip and James, pray for us.