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Homily for Sunday, May 5, 2024

Sixth Sunday of Easter | John 15.9-17

[Deacon Gunther]

It feels so good to be here!

It’s been a long recovery after my major surgery. I am feeling much better and on my way to a full recovery. I wish to thank all you parishioners and friends who have been praying for me and sending get well cards and offering Masses during my ordeal. They worked!

For those of you that have had major surgery, you know the tremendous anxiety you go through as you are being prepped in the operating room. Well, I have to tell you that there was a calm that took over me as I thought of all the folks that were praying for my healing. I could feel your love and well wishes.

And a special thank you to Fr. Paul for his encouragement to take the proper time to recuperate.

It is nice to be home.

Speaking of love, today’s readings are among the best commentaries on the love of God for us in all of scripture. In our 2nd reading; John offers a wonderful description of God ... “God is love”. Here John reveals who God is when he says “God sent his only begotten son into the world so that we might live through him.” Then, in the gospel Jesus offers himself as a human model of love as he commands us to “Love one another ... as I love you.” Jesus say’s that his disciples have not chosen him but he has chosen them. We also have been chosen to be his disciples! We have been chosen to love one another.

Pope John the 23rd while in discussion of basic truths of our faith with some church leaders asked them the following question. “What do you think is the purpose of life?” Several gave answers in line with the usual and correct one namely: “The purpose of life is to know, to love, and to serve God in this life so that we can be happy with Him forever in heaven.” Pope John smiled but shook his head. Then gave the answer he was looking for.

“You are right as far as you go, the purpose of life is to know, love and serve God, but that is not enough. We must “help others” to know, love and serve God.”

Pope John showed them another way to look at what Jesus is telling us in today’s Gospel.

So, what can we do to love our neighbour and to help them to love God? How can we encourage others to think about this wonderful message? We can do things like sharing our Catholic Register or Vineyard news articles or Christian books or pamphlets, it may spark a beginning for that person to love God. By the example of how we joyfully live our lives shows others how to love God. By coming here to worship God regularly you are already encouraging others by example to keep the Lord’s Day. By respecting the names of God, you help others respect the holy names. By giving an honest day’s work or paying an honest day’s wage, by paying your bills, by respecting the property of others, you are helping to keep God’s laws. By avoiding gossip and speaking kindly of others you are helping your family and friends to respect the good name of your neighbour.

Christians are sent out into the world to bear fruit, to love one another. We are to live in such a way that we demonstrate what is meant by loving our neighbours. Jesus reminds us that “No one can show greater love than to lay down his life for his friends” ... and he did that. Jesus is calling each of us to be his friends. He has already laid down his life for us. Now he wants us to have a close intimate connection with him and with God. Jesus gave us this intimacy with God so that he is no longer a distant stranger but our close friend. As well, Jesus chose us to be his ambassadors here on earth. First, we are to come in to him and then, representing him, to go out into the world preaching the Good News.

Jesus then goes even further when he tells the disciples that in order to “abide in his love” they are to “keep his commandments”. Just like Jesus remained in his Father’s love by keeping his Father’s commands, we are to obey the commandments of Jesus. Jesus tells us that we must love one another. It is not a suggestion; it is a command. If we are to follow Jesus, we have no choice but to comply. Yet don’t we all struggle, both with loving and with bringing others into that love? All he asks is for us to remain in him by imitating him, by loving one another. We already see examples of how we show this love in our community today.

There are:

  • People on their days off making soup and sandwiches, feeding those living on the streets,

  • Families stocking shelves in food pantries on weekends,

  • Mothers preparing family meals after a long day’s work,

  • Nurses ministering to the sick on double shifts,

  • Teachers compassionately consoling troubled students,

  • Caretakers sacrificing for the elderly,

  • Parents forgiving children for past hurts,

  • Priests offering absolution in the name of God,

  • Broken relationships being mended through counselling,

  • Parishioners being generous stewards, giving of their time and money to help bring others into Christ’s love.

Those are just some of the examples where we find the presence of Christ’s love through our love of others.

The scriptures tell us that the summary of Christian life is found in Jesus’ declaration to: “Love one another as I love you.” We are only human which means we have to work at it. We may need to ask God to help us to know, love and serve him. And, then to ask him to show us how to help others to love God, love others and follow Christ.

May God bless you!


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