First Reading: Acts 10: 25 – 26, 34 – 35, 44 – 48.
Second Reading: 1 John 4: 7 – 10
Gospel: John 15: 9 – 17
The Mass makes present the self-giving death of Jesus in every generation, to every
community that gathers for the Breaking of Bread. Right here and now he continues to speak
those same words from the last supper, “You are my friends,” “I chose you.” But here’s a
thing: In our personal lives, choosing one means not choosing another. This is not the case
with the good Lord, who is able to choose each of us equally. As Peter says in the first
reading, “God does not have favourites.”
If I choose someone as a friend, I want that person to make a similar choice of me. Similarly,
the Lord’s choice of us seeks and desires our choice of him. Having chosen us, he wants us to
reciprocate that choice. Earlier in the gospel, at a time when many people stopped following
him, he turned to his disciples and said to them, “Do you also wish to go away?” Jesus was
inviting them to respond to the choice he had made of them. At that highly-charged moment,
Peter said on behalf of them all, “Lord, to whom can we go? You have the message of eternal
life.” In this way he publicly declared his choice of Jesus. At Mass we both celebrate the
Lord’s choice of us and we renew our choice of him. When we respond to his invitation to
take and eat, we take Him to heart and renew our choice him as our way, our truth and our
It is said that St. John lived to a great age, and as an old man was carried each Sunday to
where the Christians at Ephesus were celebrating the Eucharist. Invariably he was asked to
address the little congregation, and always he spoke about the love of God, until even these
devout people grew a little weary of the same recurring theme. The old man would not change
his subject but persisted in speaking about love, because for him the central theme of Jesus’
message was the overwhelming love of God. “We believe in love,” was the motto of those
who were in full agreement with John.
This could easily be an empty slogan, except that John stated clearly what he meant by love,
and it is echoed in today’s 2nd Reading. “This is the love I mean: not our love for God, but
God’s love for us, when he sent his Son to be the sacrifice that takes away our sins.” The deep
truth about God is not that he loves us or that he is a lovable being, but rather that, in himself,
he is love. By his nature God gives and shares of his inner self. It also means that whoever
receives the gift of God’s love must mirror God’s own sharing of self. God’s love was such as
to impel him to give his only Son so that we might have life through him.
I am quite unable to love myself to the same degree that God loves me. God is even closer to
me than I am to myself. Through the prophet Isaiah 49:16) God addresses to me the consoling
words, “See upon the palm of my hand I have written your name.” Indeed, in the person of
Jesus, God, as it were, reaches out to us with two hands — the one extended in forgiveness
which saves us from being engulfed here and now in our evil ways, the other casting a ray of
light beyond the portals of death, reminding us that as God raised Christ from the. dead, so he
will redeem us too, when we have completed our earthly existence. That we are able to grasp
those hands of God extended to us, that we are able to cling to them steadfastly, is more a gift
of God’s grace that our own accomplishment. No amount of self-pruning, of teeth-gritting
human striving, will bring us any closer to God.
But if we try and go through life in the conviction that God’s loving care is watching over us,
we will cease to be anxious about our own happiness, about what we would like to become.
Strange as it may seem, faith in God’s love for us frees us from all kinds of inner pressures,
and yet at the same time brings us to a closer and more completely loving our God. “There are
three things that last,” St Paul tells us, “faith, hope and love; and the greatest of these is love”
(1 Cor 13:13). For coming into the presence of God, faith will give way to vision, hope to
attainment, but love will continue alive and well for all eternity.
I want you to consider St. Teresa of Calcutta. Her work among the poorest of the poor spread
thought the world. Certainly people felt called to join the order of Missionaries of Charity in
making Matthew Ch: 25 a reality: “ …when I as hungry you gave me food to eat, when I was
thirsty you gave me drink… But there was even more than this that attracted people to Saint
Mother Teresa. They were drawn by Jesus’ love within her, and like a magnet, that love
flowed through her into them. An then they attracted others to Christ. The love of Christ
flowed though her into them. It still does.
We have been attracted by the dynamism, the magnetism of Jesus Christ. We know that
saying that we love Him is not enough. We have to live His love. In the Gospel Jesus uses
this phrase: “Remain in my love.” He tells us that we remain in His love, if we keep His
commandments. But Jesus doesn’t give a whole list of commandments like Moses id when he
came down from Mount Sinai. Jesus just gives one commandment: love one another.
That is all that really matters, if we love each other, truly, in the sacrificial love of the Lord,
everything else falls into place. St. Augustine put it this way: “Once and for all, a short rule is
laid down for you: Love and do what you will. If you keep silence, do it out of love. If you
cry out, do it out of love. If you refrain from punishing, do it out of love. Let the root of love
be within you. From such a root, nothing but good can come.
God Bless you. Happy Mother’s day to all mothers.