Readings for the Seventh Sunday of Easter
Readings for the Ascension — Homily for the Ascension
“Beloved, if God so loved us, we also must love one another.” Today’s second reading tells us how important it is to love. Our relationship with God began out of love, as God first loved us. And we are reminded today of importance of the sharing of love. For when God creates, it is a sign to us of his powerful love. Love must be shared. It is against the very nature of God to be selfish, to keep love to himself. This is why he creates. Because when he does so, love is shared.
But this places upon us the same desire to share, if we are creatures of God’s love. Saint John tells us this. We cannot say we love God if we hate our brother or sister. And when we examine the Scriptures, we see again and again the problems that develop when love is forgotten. Cain kills Abel. He cannot be happy for his brother, but rather becomes jealous, and his attention is turned inward. There is David who gives into his selfish lust with Bathsheba, and is willing to kill her husband Uriah because of it. Those who bring the woman caught in the act of adultery are willing to sacrifice her in spite of their own sinfulness.
Jesus is the ultimate giver of love. We will learn in a couple of weeks about what it means to say that God is love. Today we know that if we wish to remain in this powerful relationship of love, we must love one another. This is, of course not always easy. I find that some people really make me angry. There are others who annoy me. There are still others that have needs I am not always anxious to fill. I know that I should, but I do not. It seems there is no shortage of reasons and excuses I can use not to love.
I find in my own life that things are easier when I can bring these people to prayer. It is harder to remain angry at someone if you bring the relationship you have with them before the Lord. It is easier to deal with those who annoy us when we seek to be in the presence of Jesus. It is clearly harder to ignore those in need when we see the Christ in them. We must love. That is because we are made in God’s image and likeness. And to be like God is to love.
Remember that the important challenge is to remain in relationship with God by loving. Paul reminds us that we do not seek to love all alone. We have help, namely the love of Jesus for us and the outpouring of the Spirit. For us this means placing ourselves in the presence of God as often as possible, so that we can become more and more aware of God’s presence. Failure to do so means we forget God, and as a result, the people who make us angry, who annoy us, who are in need, are seen in a different way. They are not avenues to grace when we see their human dignity, but rather become obstacles to us and are seen as interfering with what we want to do.
Jesus did not view others as an interruption to his well being and happiness, and neither should we. While it is true he sought to go away by himself, it was to focus completely upon the Father and the Father’s work in the world. So too it must be for us. We must never be resistant to go away by ourselves to focus completely on God.
The world offers many distractions. It can be so easy to become involved in this or that, to lose our focus. We can find ourselves pulled in so many different directions that we fail to keep those things that are really important before us. We settle for the less important. We can work too hard and too long and find ourselves away from our families. We can become distracted with movies and television, or social media and games that do not always make us better persons. We might find ourselves drawn into the world of pornography on the Internet, which causes us to turn inward and become selfish and broken.
Remaining in God’s love is that constant practice of becoming more and more aware of God in all that we do. And when we do this, then slowly and gently God moves us more and more into the persons we were created to be, that is to say, our best selves. So you know what it is that you need to do. Remain in God’s love.