HOMILY & IDEAS

Acts 14:21-27; Rev 21:1-5a; John 13:31-33a, 34-35.

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.

When Judas had left, Jesus said, Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him. (If God is glorified in him,) God will also glorify him in himself, and he will glorify him at once. My children, I will be with you only a little while longer. You will look for me, and as I told the Jews, 'Where I go you cannot come,' so now I say it to you. I give you a new commandment: love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another. This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.

Two themes have occupied my thoughts and prayer this week regarding this Gospel reading. First -- the commandment given by Jesus to love one another as He has loved us, and second -- how one should be able to be unidentifiable by the love he shows to his neighbor.

I believe a message can be preached this weekend that diffuses what may seem like an impossible commandment to follow; that is -- the commandment to love as Jesus loved. How can we possibly love as Jesus loved? After all, Jesus was the Son of God, the Messiah, our Savior, a perfect, sinless, truly human but truly divine man. How can we possibly love as Jesus loved?

However, if we look at the way Jesus loved -- the examples he has given to us in scripture -- we may realize that the living out of this commandment is indeed within our reach here and now. The excuse: BUT THAT WAS JESUS can not be employed. Perhaps this would be a good weekend to remind the faithful of the simplicity and beauty of this commandment.

How did Jesus love?

Jesus allowed himself to be moved with pity and compassion when he encountered those in need. Many miracles performed by Jesus in the Gospels are preceded with the observation of Jesus being moved with pity. We may not be able to perform such miracles; however we can open our hearts, our minds and out treasure to help those in need. We can allow ourselves to feel fully the angst of those in need and respond. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus allowed himself to be moved to tears in the midst of sadness. He openly shed tears at the tomb of Lazarus. He shed tears over the city of Jerusalem. He allowed himself to feel the loss of a loved one and respond with love. We may not be able to raise a loved one from the dead, but we can allow ourselves to feel fully the sadness of loss and respond by loving the living who share our grief. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus loved by serving others, by helping others and by healing others. Not even foot-washing was beneath Jesus. Jesus tells us that to be first we must make ourselves last. No task is too small or too menial to not be simultaneously loving. We love by serving our brothers and sisters in down-to-earth, practical ways. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus did not condemn, but he also did not condone. This is exemplified in his words to the woman caught in the act of adultery -- Then neither do I condemn you, BUT go and sin no more. To love someone who has sinned is not to condemn them, but rather it is to forgive them and challenge them in a constructive, concrete way. Love seeks to heal, to build up, to challenge and to inspire. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus is concerned about the needs of those who find themselves alone and lonely. Jesus raises from the dead the son of the widow not out of pity for the deceased son, but out of pity for the mother who will be left alone and unprotected by the culture in which she lived. Jesus also delivers instructions from the cross itself to the beloved disciple to look after His own mother, Mary, after he dies on the cross. Jesus is concerned for her wellbeing. To love someone is to care for his or her daily, practical needs and to provide security and safety. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus saves the bride and groom embarrassment at Cana and cooks breakfast for some of the disciples in his post-resurrection body on the shore of sea of Galilee. Jesus is concerned about the feelings of people and the real hunger created by a hard night of work. To love someone is to care about his or her feelings and to provide a single meal when someone is hungry. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

The anger of Jesus displayed in the temple is even rooted in a kind of love -- the love for His Father and for the house of His Father. When the sacredness and majesty of either the Father or His house is threatened or belittled Jesus will certainly respond strongly. The sacred must be protected. Relativism and cafeteria-style spirituality must be toppled when it threatens the sacred. We must stand up strongly for our faith and protect it. This is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus responded to His vocation given to Him by the Father. In the fullness of time he walked to the Jordan to be baptized and begin His ministry. He responded -- YES, I WILL -- to his call. Even in the midst of great agony and anxiety Jesus responds -- YES, I WILL -- in the Garden of Getsemane. His love for the Father supersedes His personal fears and anxieties. He does the will of the Father. Obeying our calls and living out the will of God in our lives is a loving response to God. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

Jesus sacrificed his life for us out of love. The sacrifice of life out of the love of others still occurs today; however, most of us will never be called to show our love to such an extent. Still, the reality of sacrifice touches all of our lives. Parents greatly sacrifice for their children. Spouses sacrifice for each other. Oftentimes adult children show great sacrifices in caring for their elderly parents. Priests, ministers, and religious brothers and sisters make sacrifices in the living out of their ministerial lives. To love is oftentimes to sacrifice. That is how to love. That is how Jesus loved.

I am sure that you can come up with many more examples from scripture. These are but a few. In the end, we see that the commandment given to us from Jesus is something we can follow and obey. We are asked to love as Jesus loved in the ordinary living of our lives. We love by allowing ourselves to be moved with pity. We love by responding to the everyday needs of others. We love by allowing ourselves to show our emotions publicly. We love by comforting and protecting those who have experienced loss. We love by serving others in every way -- no matter how small. We love by forgiving and not condemning -- by challenging and not condoning. We love by protecting the sacred. We love by responding to the call of God in our lives and by walking in the footsteps of Jesus. We love by making sacrifices. We do not need to be miracle workers to love. We are suited as mortal humans to love greatly. This is how people will know we are disciples of Christ.

Back to Main Page