6th Eastern Sunday (Note & Bulletin)

I remember hearing about a Jesuit who was being transferred from Thunder Bay where he was working with the Native People. The people wrote the Jesuit in charge and asked if he would reconsider the new assignment. The reason they gave was that the Jesuit in question “made them feel better about themselves.” I always found their reason a beautiful expression of what priesthood and Christian service is all about. They didn’t talk about any church programs he may have started, or the extent of his wisdom or insight. No mention was made of his problem solving abilities or the solemnity of his presiding and preaching at Mass. Rather they simply said that he “made them feel better about themselves.” I think what the Jesuit did was to love the people. In the face of struggles and difficulties that were endured, they could always know within their hearts that life was not totally bleak, that they were still loved. In the two readings we have from Saint John this week, we are again confronted by the core call of the Christian faith. We are called to love.

In the Second Reading and the Gospel, it is clear that as disciples of the Lord the life of love is our own. John instructs us to “love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love.” And in the Gospel, Jesus, at the Last Supper, tells the Apostles, “as the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; abide in my love.” As many of you know, my message is a bit like a “broken record,” it is always the same – we are loved by God and we are to love ourselves and others. I recognize that this can sound overly simple, and yet, I also believe, with every fibre of my being, that it is absolutely true and lightens our path of salvation.

It would not surprise any of us to hear that Christ has given us the call to love. Sometimes we can understand the Lord’s call as a sort of duty or obligation. It is not. On the contrary, it makes real in our life what God is giving to our hearts. Saint John explains how God loves. He writes, “God’s love was revealed among us in this way: God sent his only-begotten Son into the world so that we might live through him. In this is love, not that we loved God but that he loved us and sent his Son to be the atoning sacrifice for our sins.” In other words, we love because he has first loved us. When I think of myself I know that I’m not the holiest priest, I’m not the smartest person, I’m not the best looking man, I was not the most athletic hockey player, and the list could go on. At the same time, I know that I am so precious in God’s eyes that he gave his very self for me. In this I know who I am – I am eternally loved. All the above is true not just for me but is true for every single person. When we gradually accept the gift of the Father’s love, we gradually are transformed and redeemed into his love. To love is no longer a duty or obligation, but is the expression of who we are. Because we are loved, we are love. God is not a stranger to us, we are God’s friends. Jesus tells us “I do not call you servants any longer... but I have called you friends.” If we say “Amen, I believe” to the gift of God’s love in our hearts then his joy will be our own. We will know the Father’s love as the Son know it. Our lives will not be dark and bleak, but will be beautiful and hopeful. It will be thus because his love will be real for us. It will be thus because we will know that he is love and, so too, are we.

God Bless and Take Care,
—Fr John

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