6th Sunday of Easter - May 13, 2012

In our first reading, Peter, the first leader of Christ’s Church chosen by Jesus Himself in Matthew chapter 16, sees how God is working in the hearts of Cornelius and his whole household.  They were non-Jews, Gentile pagans.  And Peter says, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality.  Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”  As he spoke the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of Love being sent forth by the Father and the Son, came down upon Cornelius and his whole extended family.

We learn by these words of Peter and by God’s saving Holy Spirit, that anyone in any culture who is open to the truth and the wonder and awe of the one Living God and acts according to the inner natural law of love that God has written upon our consciences, is already open to receiving Jesus Christ if only they hear about him.  It also means that God has no favorites.  All of us together are really in the same boat.  I as priest and all of you in your vocations must all strive to have that inner openness, that interior wonder and awe of God, and that inner desire to act with a good conscience that is listening to God’s inner voice of Love.  No one has an inside track to access of the Holy Spirit.  We all can receive the Love our Eternal Father has for us if only we are open to receiving that Love.

Jesus says to us, “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.”  None of us can keep the commandments by sheer will power.  If we try to white knuckle it, we will surely fall into the very sin we are so strongly trying to avoid.  We can only really keep the commandments if we are able to receive the Love God has for us.  For in being truly able to receiving the Truth that I am indeed infinitely loved, I am then filled with the New Law of Love which is not just an abstract idea, but a Divine Person…. The Holy Spirit… the Spirit of Christ who then conceives in my life the Life of Christ.  Then it is our Lord Jesus Himself, by the power of the Holy Spirit who is able to overcome sin in me as I cooperate with His grace and practice real virtue.

This is why Jesus says to us those very encouraging words; “As the Father loves me, so I also love you.”  Imagine for a moment what these means even to our puny little human minds.  The Father has loved His Eternal Son from all eternity.  All things that are made reflect the Eternal Word of Love being eternally begotten from the Father.  The galaxies, the blue skies, the oceans, the sunsets, every bird and flower, our loved ones… everything good, beautiful, and true echoes again and again the Love the Father has for His Son in an infinite Love story.  And Jesus says to us that in Him, we are loved with the very same love.  As we look up at the stars, as we gaze upon a sun rise, as we enjoy the presence of a friend or spouse… the colors, the music, everything created for you and for me is a Love song of the Father trying to tell us how much He loves us.  He finally sends us even His only begotten Son whom we brutally mistreat and even crucify by our sins, still showing us that even when we are at our worst, the Father still chooses to Love us and call us back.  Really when Sacred Scripture speaks of the just wrath of the Father, it is only shown when we His creatures reject all of His advances of Love.
Because of our fallen human nature, and because of the ways we have been hurt in life, it is very hard for us to trust in true love.  That is why when we have any cross in life, we immediately begin to wonder if we are still loved.  Yet we can now look at the Holy Cross and see that Jesus Himself, the only begotten Son of the Father, suffered immensely, yet still remained in the Love of the Father.  Even as He was brutally nailed to the Cross, Jesus continued to speak with His Father saying at the bitter end of all His sufferings, “Father into your hands I commend my spirit.”

So too, we are loved by the Father in the good times and in the bad.  But we must not presume upon that love and continue with sinful choices convincing ourselves that God will understand, for that would only be taking the Father’s love for granted and trying to manipulate it.  No, we must instead be sincere and see the Father’s invitation to love as something very real, a real relationship… more real than our other relationships… and realize that our whole Catholic faith is about this living relationship between our hearts and the Father’s heart as we are reconciled in Christ.

So we must ask ourselves, in what ways do I doubt the Love the Father has for me?  In what ways does the Love of the Father, or maybe even the very word love make me feel very uncomfortable?  Are there any false loves, or selfish worldly desires that make not even care if I am receiving the Father’s Love or not?

Last week at our regional confirmation, our Bishop taught the 3rd graders a simple prayer we could all pray every day.  “Lord Jesus, help me to know you and the love you have for me today.”  We can also pray to the Father… “Father God, help me to know you and the love you have for me today.”

Today on this Mother’s Day, we are reminded that in relatively healthy families, it is the Mother who teaches children to know their Father and be able to receive His Love.  So may Mary Immaculate, our Blessed Mother who so fully received the Father’s Love, teach us how to receive the Father’s Love through the Pierced Heart of Jesus Her Son.