“Remain In My Love”
In this beautiful homily for 6th Sunday of Easter, Year B, Father Hanly shows us how to remain in Jesus’ love.
Readings for Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B
- First Reading: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
- Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
- Second Reading: First John 4:7-10
- Gospel: John 15:9-17
(Apologies. Beginning of homily missing.)
… the very, very familiar words:
As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
And we know when he says “my commandment” what he really means. What he means is that you love one another.
Recently, these very famous words, “little children love one another,” is spoken in another context.
Recently, a few months ago, Cardinal Kim of Korea passed away. Cardinal Kim was an exceptional person. How exceptional a pastor was he? When he passed away, it was spread all over the radio and television, immediately. And people joined in a deep sorrow and crying and weeping over him. Because it wasn’t just the Christians of Korea that loved him and cared for him. No, it was all the people.
And why? Because they saw in him someone who acted, truly acted, like Jesus himself. He was kind. He was considerate. He was always on the side of the people who needed help most.
I would like to read just a very short passage that kind of sums up, in a way, the kind of person that he was, and also the kind of person that he wanted us to be. It’s written by Jean Vanier, and it goes like this:
“Jesus says to you, ‘I love you, and I want you to love each other. I want you to be kind to them, the way I am kind. I want you to care for them, the way I care for them. I want you to be with them when they need you, as I am with you when you need me.
“I want you to cherish them. I want you to sacrifice for them, as I sacrifice for you. Even if you must give up your life for them, I want you to do this, so that you might know my joy.
“My joy is to be with the children of men. My joy is full by being with you, being part of your lives, being as close as a vine is to the branches, to live your life with you, and hope that you will live my life with each other.
“This, if you do this, all men will know that the Son of God has come, and he has come with the Father, and the Father has come to bring peace and joy and hope to all peoples.’”
This is what the cardinal was for his people. And this is what we are asked by Jesus to be to each other.
I read those words once before in a class that I was giving, and there was a lady who was having particular problems and she said, “Father, I wish my husband was here, that he might listen to this.” (Father chuckles.)
And I said, “No, the point is these words are not meant for your husband, they are meant for you. Your response is to be Jesus for him. And then you will have fulfilled what Jesus says.
“Not your husbands must love their wives, or their wives must love their husbands, or people must come together in peace and harmony and forgiveness and thankfulness.
“Jesus is saying if you don’t do it, it will not be done.”
There’s a note of sadness in this, but there’s never a note of sadness with Jesus, because he does not expect us to be perfect people. He knows what failure is. He carries our own failures in his heart.
What he does expect from us, however, is to love.
And, when we fail, to be honest and open and admit that we have failed. Not so that we can be shamed in front of people, but so that we can let people know that God Himself was a failure. That Jesus died as a failure.
But what makes him so great was that he rose up into new life and that is what he wants our lives to be: a constant learning how to love, and know at the bottom of every failure is a new understanding and a new way.
As Mother Theresa was fond of saying, “The only failure is when you fail, you refuse to get up again and carry on the one important message that the world must learn: that God loves his people.”