The parallel between God’s love and our mothers’ love seems to fit so perfectly!

I love this post-Easter time when we read from Acts. The early church must have faced the same hostility and opposition that Jesus faced but it didn’t dim their faith. It inspired them and they in turn inspire me. God’s love empowered Jesus and he invites us to do the same, to be loving communities. God’s Word does work wonders. Let us give thanks and be glad that we hear it today. Peter may not have understood fully what these words meant when he was a disciple of Jesus. But there’s no doubt the post-resurrection Peter not only understood, but lived out the message and proclaimed it fearlessly. In today’s reading from Acts the power of Peter’s faith and the strength of his words ring out confidently.

On this Sixth Sunday of Easter we honor all mothers as “shepherds” of their little ones. Today’s Gospel fits right in, since it’s all about Jesus’ command that we love one another as He loves us. The parallel between God’s love and our mothers’ love seems to fit so perfectly. What we hear today is a simple, straight-forward command, which if observed, will continue the personality and central characteristic of Jesus Himself. “Love one another as I have loved you.” Before saying this, Jesus tells them that He has loved them as deeply and intimately as the Father has loved Him. Remaining in this love will make keeping this one and only summation of all His teachings, possible and meaningful.

We are named “friends” and “chosen”. This is central to our following of Jesus. If we believe who we are; if we take our name seriously, then the actions of loving will follow. Jesus tells His disciples, and ourselves, that “you are a part of Me, as Vine, you are known, loved, and chosen to be fruitful.” The “fruitfulness” is that for which Jesus came. The fruitfulness is ourselves, beginning with the disciples and spreading through the early church to all the ends of the earth, including us.

But first, the shocking events told us this week in the Acts of the Apostles.

Just when the Jewish community was settling in to the idea of Jesus as the long-awaited Messiah sent to redeem Israel, the mysterious Holy Spirit of God hits them with a thunderbolt of new teaching. Peter has a noonday trance that disturbs him. A heavenly agent forbids him to call any food unclean that God has made clean! Cornelius, a pagan, is likewise visited by an angel who commands him to summon Peter. Through the resulting encounter, Peter is convinced that the message of salvation he thought applied only to Jews, is meant also for non-Jews. This does not go over well with many Jews back in Jerusalem. Salvation was no longer an exclusive prerogative for the Chosen People. Now, all are chosen! The community peace is shattered!

What saves the new Church? That other “shocker” – the command that Jesus gave in his Farewell Address to His apostles that they are to love one another “as I have loved you.” Love is the power unleashed by the Holy Spirit after Jesus’ resurrection from the dead. Two thousand years of trial and error has not made any easier this fundamental teaching of our faith. Love! Just think what a dynamic transformation there would be in our world society if all Christians really loved one another!

When the Holy Spirit asks us if we like the idea of love, we respond enthusiastically. But even though the Lord has actually commanded us to love, we balk, make all kinds of excuses and compromises. Yet, the meaning is clear. Love one another and listen to one another! God listens to us a lot! We get in trouble when we fail to listen to God. God loves us unconditionally, and we will never measure up to Jesus’ command until we are able to love in the same manner.

Today we honor all mothers. Their love is a sacrificing love, an unconditional love, a love that protects their children from danger and death, that encourages them to grow and become all they can become. Mothers are the living examples of how much God loves us. May their presence in our world help all of us to love others more tenderly, more unselfishly. May God bless them all, living and deceased, this day.


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