HOMILY & IDEAS

Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48, 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

Here are some stones I have overturned to see what ideas lay underneath. I hope you can grab hold of something, pull -- and discover that it has some homiletic roots for you.

Jesus said to his disciples -- As the Father loves me, so I also love you.

What Wondrous Love Is This? This is a title of a beautiful song that comes to mind when contemplating the depth of this verse. To comprehend the love of which Jesus speaks, one needs first to fathom the love that the Father has for His Son. Is this possible? What wondrous love is this? We may know something about the earthly bonds of love between biological sons and their fathers; but what about this divine love between these two persons of the Trinity? How does this love affect us?

Luke and Matthew begin their Gospels with the birth of Jesus. Mark begins his Gospel with the baptism of Jesus; but in the first words of the Gospel of John we read -- In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God.

The love that the Father has for the Son certainly does not vary from Gospel to Gospel; however, from the very beginning of the Gospel of John we are challenged to grasp the eternity, the intimacy and the affinity in the union of the Word -- Jesus -- and God the Father. What wondrous love is encountered here? What wondrous love is this? Would our hearts be able to withstand a single glimpse into this love?

If peering into the Grand Canyon would pale in comparison to the depths of this love, then what may we conclude of the love that Jesus has for his disciples? How great is the Love that Jesus has for us? What Wondrous Love Is This?

Remain in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Fathers commandments and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy may be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.

Here Jesus completes this perfect progression of love by commanding his disciples to love one another with the same love with which He has loved them -- with the same love that the Father has loved Him. It is the greatest commandment and it is perhaps the most challenging commandment when one contemplates the examples of love one must follow -- the example of the love between the Father and the Son, and the example of the love that Jesus has for His disciples.

Exactly how challenging is this love?

No one has greater love than this, to lay down ones life for ones friends.

It is that challenging.

You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.

The theme this week? Love, of course. Here are a few love stories:

STORY: My wife is the reason I know God loves me. This is perhaps one of the most beautiful things that I have heard a man say about marriage recently. These words were spoken by the owner of a diner where I was having lunch in a little town in Western Massachusetts last summer. Ralph had an opinion about every topic which surfaced during our conversation. The topics were many and he moved through them like a kid opening Christmas presents on Christmas morning. When he said all he had to say about a topic he tossed it aside and moved on to the next. In about an hour we had touched upon the church, religion-in-general, God, love, relationships, fidelity, fate, homilies, vocations, celibacy, and married priesthood to name a few.

He said a lot of things that evening; but I will never forget what he said about his wife and God in a single sentence; for it struck me as a beautiful image of how God loves us through others, and how when loving each other we image the Love of God. That is, Ralph clearly saw that God loved him BECAUSE of this woman that God placed in his life, and THROUGH this woman that was placed in his life. The connection was concrete, immediate and spoken as a matter of fact. And, when I saw the love between Ralph and Sophie, I glimpsed into the love which IS God. My wife is the reason I know God loves me. Beautiful.

STORY: A rather eccentric looking young man donning an old brown suit and holding a small, worn, stickered suitcase walked into the center of a town in which he had just landed a job. On the town common he spun around a few times and looked up to the skyline. Fixing his eyes on the closest church steeple, he immediately made his way to the front door of the rectory beside the church. He knocked on the door and asked to speak with the pastor. When the pastor met him in the parlor, the young man rose to his feet and immediately stood on one foot. Wearing a curious expression, the pastor asked how he could help the man. The young man said -- I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. Assessing the man to be deranged, the pastor promptly showed him the door.

Returning to the town common to repeat his spinning ritual, he headed in a new direction to the nearest church steeple. He made his way to the front door of the rectory and repeated his request to speak to the pastor: I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. Determining the young man to be irrational he also showed him the door.

A third time the young man repeated his spinning ritual and headed toward another church steeple and knocked on the door of the rectory. An old, slouched and limping, white-bearded pastor answered the door and showed him into a sitting room. The young man repeated his request saying: I have come very far and wish to settle in this town and join your church; however first I would like you to instruct me in the entire faith as I stand on one foot. The pastor looked at him through timeworn but wise eyes and smiled saying: Jesus commands you to love one another as He has loved you -- the rest is all commentary. At that the young man settled into town and joined the church.

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