My brothers and sister in Christ,1
We have just heard a beautiful message of love in our readings from sacred Scripture this morning.
They are perfect readings for Mother’s Day. Because a mother’s love is a great and special kind of love. Because in a mother’s love for her children, we see a reflection of the kind of the love that God our Father has for each one of us.
So thank you, all of you who are mothers! We have a small gift for all of you after the homily. Because we want to express our gratitude to you. By your love, day in and day out, you give all of us a beautiful example of the way of Christian love.
And as I said, it is so fitting that on this Sunday when we celebrate the love of our mothers, our Scripture readings speak to us in a about the love of God.
God is love. And his love is meant to change our lives. To bring us peace and lasting joy. We see God’s love in action in our first reading.
It is a great scene from the Acts of the Apostles. Peter and his disciples are sent by God to the house of Cornelius. He is a Roman soldier — and that’s important. Because the point is that he is not Jewish. He is a Gentile. That’s the key to the meaning of this story. Cornelius and his family here represent all the families of every nation.
So Peter goes to his house. And as Peter is preaching the Word of God, the Holy Spirit is poured out upon Cornelius and his family and they begin speaking in tongues — just like what happened to the first Christians at Pentecost.
The lesson for us in this reading is that God doesn’t play favorites. He is ready to pour out his Holy Spirit of love on anyone who believes in Jesus Christ. No matter who they are. No matter where they come from.
God loves each of us with a Father’s love. We are all his beloved sons and daughters. That’s what St. John is telling us in today’s second reading. As we heard: God is love. And we are begotten by God.
This is who we are, my brothers and sisters. Children of God. Children of Love!
We are born for love. And each of us is a part of a great chain of love that begins with God. This is what Jesus is talking about in our Gospel for today. “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. ... Love one another as I love you.”
This is the new commandment. The commandment that fulfills every other commandment. To love as Jesus loved.
Jesus wants us today to reflect on his death. Because there’s no greater love than the love that he revealed in dying for us on the Cross. Jesus wants his way of love to become the pattern for our lives. We need to imitate Jesus. We need to love as he loved.
True love — Christian love — means laying down our lives for the love of God and for love of our friends.
But that doesn’t mean we all have to die. Jesus isn’t calling us all to be martyrs! There are a lot of ways to lay down our lives and to show our love.
We lay down our lives by working to give up our selfish habits and sinful attitudes. By struggling everyday to grow in holiness. By trying every day to be more like Jesus Christ.
Laying down our lives means not doing things for selfish reasons or for our own pleasure or satisfaction. It means doing things instead out of love for God and to serve others.
This isn’t easy, as we know. It’s not easy to be self-giving. It’s not easy to love people, either. Every one of us knows that! Sometimes the people who are closest to us in our lives are the people who are the hardest to love.
So if we want to grow in our ability to love, we have to get rid of some of our “romantic” ideas. Love is hard. And love hurts. Christian love is beautiful, it brings us joy. But it’s more than an emotion or a good feeling. Christian love must pass through the test of self-giving and suffering.
Real love means obedience and self-sacrifice. As Jesus was obedient to his Father’s commands, we have to be obedient to Jesus’ commands — to his teachings and the teachings of his Church. Even when those teachings are hard or inconvenient. Even when these teachings go against the messages of our culture.
So this week, let’s ask for the grace to love more and to love better.
Let’s try to really concentrate on the little things that we do every day. We can make a better effort to do everything — even the littlest things we do every day — with more love and to do them for the glory of God.
Another suggestion is to try to see people differently this week. Let’s try to see them as Jesus sees them, as Jesus sees each one of us — as a beautiful child of God. This will make it easier for us to love people as God loves them. It will make it easier for us to think less about ourselves to put others’ needs before our own.
These sound like small measures. And they are. But they aren’t easy to do, as we all know. We grow in our spiritual lives by making progress little by little. By every day being more mindful and more prayerful.
So let’s pray for this grace. And let’s thank God today for all our mothers — for all our mothers who are with us, and for all those who have gone before us marked with the sign of faith.
Let’s thank God for their example of great love, for showing us how to lay down our lives for the ones we love.
And may the Blessed Virgin, the Mother of Fair Love, help us to love as Jesus teaches to love. Without holding anything back. Without expecting anything in return. To love others for the love of God.
1. Readings (Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B): Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Ps. 98:1-4; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17.