5th Sunday of Easter (Note & Bulletin)

When we first entered as Jesuit Novices, I can remember being impressed by some, thinking them terrific, and not being so impressed with others.  And if family or friends came to visit we tended to be so excited to introduce them to those we thought were terrific and trying to avoid those we were less impressed with.  I may have felt that their opinions were wrong, their personalities were strange, or just, in general, not my kind of person.  Looking back I realize why I didn’t want those I care about to meet those I had difficulty with.  The reason was I didn’t want to be seen as part of their group nor did I want to be seen with them as part of my group. You may read this and say, “Yeah that makes sense, some people we like more than others, some people we want to be more associated with.”  The problem is that it’s not following in the footsteps of the Lord.  I was wrong and sinful to overvalue one person over another just because they liked sports, or Bruce Springsteen, or had similar views of the Church or religious life.

In this week’s Gospel, the Lord tells us “In my Father’s house there are many dwelling places.”  And so it seems that God does not require nor desire unanimity of personalities, opinions and ways of living one’s faith.  We can understand this variety as expressing God’s pleasure in diversity.  I think this would be a superficial interpretation because what the Father loves should really be expressed as who the Father loves.  Jesus says “If you know me you will know my Father also.  From now on you do know him, you have seen him.”  In the Gospels over and over again we see the Lord loving all.  He loves the saint and the sinner, the Jew and the Gentile, the popular and the lonely, the strong and the weak, the man and the woman, the old and the young.  And so what we can see then is that God has an understanding and a tender love for each of us.  We can have different opinions, different likes and dislikes, different faiths and Jesus shows us that there is one thing infinitely more important.  And that is that we are known and loved by the Father.  

If we are coming to know God’s personal love then there is one honest thing that each of us can say – I can no longer be the person I was yesterday.  The way is the path of love.  The truth is the foundation of love.  And the life is the experience of love.  As we come to know in our hearts the reality of His love, His love grows within us and His love slowly becomes our own love.  As such, we become less willing to say mean words and less willing to do mean things.  We can have a growing awareness that we are, each of us, “like living stones.”  And that we are being “built into a spiritual house,… a holy priesthood.”   If we are living stones in God’s hands than we have a living faith in God’s heart.  The Church is not a place controlled by rules.  The Church is not a place governed by fear.  The Church is not a place where God’s sons and daughters are excluded.  Rather, the Church is a place where love is our only way, our only truth and our only life.  

This week then, we are again called to accept and believe that which seems so hard to accept and believe.  None of us are perfect, none of us have angel wings.   But this is not the revelation of God in Christ.  What is His revelation is that we are loved by the Father.  We are so loved by him that he identifies  Himself with us and us with Him. We are part of his group!  We are so much a part of him that we are his living stones.  We are his living stones which are making his spiritual house.  And his house is the house of love.

God Bless and Take Care!

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