Homily (2) 6th Sunday of Easter Year B (Mother’s Day USA): Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; 1 John 4:7-14 and John 15:9-19
God Is Love as a Loving Mother!
Today we celebrate our God who loves us as a loving mother! Ordinarily when love is mentioned everyone is awake and various interpretations are attributed to it. But, thanks to Pope Benedict XVI who in the beginning of his papacy, years ago, gave us an in-depth meaning of true love, namely God, through his Encyclical, Deus Caritas est (God is Love).
The readings of today, particularly on a Mother’s Day [here in the Unites States], revisit these themes of God’s love for us and how we respond. In the Gospel, John 15 Jesus says, “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, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love… No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.” While in the 2nd reading, 1 John, we are also bluntly told, “God is love,” (Deus Caritas est).
It is not just sentimental love, but God’s love is in action through his incarnation, becoming human in his Son to be with us, teach us, walk with us, eat with us, preach to us, and heal us. Christ love for his father in turn, is in action through his obedient ministry. Though he was in the form of God, he did not for once, count equality with God his father, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:6-11). Throughout his ministry from baptism to the cross he humbly proved his love for us in changing water to wine (John 2), in encouraging non-believers to believe (John 3), in reaching out to the poor, the weak and foreigners, the “Samaritan women,” (John 4) in healing the sick, raising the death (John 6-11), washing the feet of his disciples (John 13), and marching freely to the cross. In fact, “no one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friend.”
We are truly God’s friends no matter where we come from or what language we speak, or look like! Our friend Jesus expects us to imitate him. Don’t we ordinarily say, “Show me your friend I will tell you who you are?” If we are God’s friends, we are expected to remain in him, keep his ethics, morality, commandments, values, theologies, spiritualties. we are expected to put who our divine friend is into practice.
We can do this by bearing witness to him like Peter in today’s first reading. Peter brought the spirituality of his friend, Jesus to the Gentiles, beginning with the house of Cornelius, whom he baptized in the name of Jesus and of the Holy Spirit. We are told, “While Peter was speaking, preaching the word of God, the Holy Spirit fell upon “all” who were listening to the word of God.
This God is love and his love is universally in action. It reaches to the Jews and Gentiles! This is the true love of God. Of course, in our own practical situations, the test of true love, in fact is not just by what we feel, but by what we do which affects our neighbors. Do I speak well about my neighbor, pray for them? Am I able to hold that elevator/ door for my incoming friend or senior? Am I patriotic! Am I charitable and sensitive especially to the needs of the poor. What effects has the papacy of Pope Francis has on me thus far? Am I understanding, prudent, modest in what I say, write, eat, drink and wear? Am I kind, generous, gracious, compassionate, not instigating violent, hatred, jealousy and division, or rushing to judge my neighbors without possessing all the facts? Am I conscious that I am limited in many ways! Again, on a Mother’s Day ([like this in the States) we might ask Am I loving, forgiving, caring, generous, obedient to my superiors, parents, available, approachable, affectionate, impartial as our loving mothers?
There is a story of a Maltese loving mother who gave birth to conjoin-Siamese baby boys. Any surgery to separate them would result from one baby boy giving up his life for the other. It was a very difficult choice for both parents, especially the mom, who really spoke up, passionately. Her argument was that she loved both children equally, without partiality. I am sure many of us have also seen or heard about children, sons and daughters, husbands in prison who are loved by their moms and wives in spite of who they are. We saw the Baltimore mother pulling her son back from the face of violence the other day in Baltimore! Some have acclaimed her “the mother of the year 2015.”
Of course, we also live in a challenging time that some children, husbands tend to ignore if not abandon their parents, wives or aged moms in nursing homes, without visitation. Sometimes we forget their roles in our lives, and in our families. Without our moms many of us would not be here today. So today is the day we reflect on the love of our mothers, the role of women in the church and society, appreciate them, pray for them, visit with them, take them out for dinner, if you can, or call them on the telephone if they are far away from you!
Today is also the day when we return to the foundation of true love, namely God, and reevaluate how we daily respond to his love, exemplified in our loving mothers, by keeping his commandments, and by loving our neighbors as God our friend has first loved us.