Sixth Sunday of Easter
May 10, 2015 – Year B
Readings: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48 / 1 Jn 4:7-10 / Jn 15:9-17
by Rev. Mr. Eddie Craig, Permanent Deacon
As you all know, today in the United States is Mother’s Day. It’s a special day when we’re supposed to thank and celebrate our mothers. But I’ve heard people make the accusation that Mother’s Day is really just a Hallmark holiday and was created by greeting card companies to sell more products.
I’ve also heard it said that, really, shouldn’t we thank and be grateful to our mothers every day? Yes, this is true. We should. But it doesn’t hurt to be reminded of that, even if it’s just once a week. I mean, a month. I mean, a year. You should do it every day.
It seems appropriate that on Mother’s Day, we would have this gospel from John, because there’s a lot to be learned, when you look at this gospel through the light of a mother’s love. Jesus says: “Keep my commandments. Love one another as I have loved you.” On the surface, this seems quite simple. We all like love. Love is fun; love is cool, right? But we should keep in mind that, from the Christian point of view: love, as it is written in the Gospel, is an action and not a feeling. We can look to mothers for an example of what this means.
Mothers model the type of love that we’re talking about. There may be some of you who didn’t even know their mother, or maybe you didn’t have a good relationship with your mother. But I’ll bet that everyone can think of a woman in their life that has modeled this type of love, that has been a mother to you: a godmother, a teacher, or a catechist. Consider some of the examples of motherly love from our tradition, like Mother Theresa. They love us, even when we’re not very lovable. Jesus calls us to follow this example.
Sometimes, we’re easy to love. I think of the little babies, when they’re all cute and cuddly. But they also have a tendency to want to eat at three o’clock in the morning. And they become teenagers. And they want to go to college. This type of love that we show them can be physically, financially, and emotionally challenging. But mothers seem to step up to the task.
Other times we’re a little less lovable. I’m thinking of when we get old, and when we get sick. We can get cranky. I think about the infirm, the chronically ill, the people in hospice. They can be difficult to love. But if not their own mother, there is always some woman who models this type of love for them.
It’s also interesting that in this week, when we are called to thank and remember our mothers, the bishops of our state have released a letter to us. In that letter, they have asked us to dig deep and to love people who are perhaps the most unlovable.
This week, the bishops of Virginia, echoing the teachings of the USCCB, Saint John Paul II, Pope Benedict, and Pope Francis, have asked us to actively work to abolish the death penalty. The people who have committed such crimes are very difficult to love. After all, they have failed to love themselves. But I would expect that, in a lot of cases, their mothers still love them.
In the letter, the bishops wrote: “Our faith challenges us to declare sacred even the least lovable among us: those convicted of committing brutal crimes, which have brought them the ultimate penalty, the penalty of death.” They go on to point out that our witness to respect for life shines most brightly when we demand respect for each and every human life, including the lives of those who have failed to love themselves.
Yes, the type of love that we hear about in the gospel today can be difficult. But this love is a source of grace. It’s a source of grace when we carry out that love, when we love everyone in all stages of life, just as a mother loves her child, even when we’re not very lovable.
We are called to mirror this love to each and every one.