Saturday, May 9, 2015

All you need is love

6th Sunday of Easter Year B 2015:
Today’s readings focus on love.  I was thinking about the importance of love.  I think we could call it the most fundamental of all human emotions.  Is there anything more important to us than love?  Think about how many songs there are about love.  As I was reflecting on the readings this week all I kept hearing Beatles’ songs in my head: all you need is love…  Or think about all the movies about love, all the books about love.  This weekend we are remembering our mothers, a lot of love there: the love our mothers have for us, and the love we have for our mothers.  In the heart of every human being there is a great longing for love.  Love motivates us, inspires us.
So, in today’s gospel, when Jesus gives us his great command to love, it makes a lot of sense. In so many ways, this one law simplifies and summarizes the mission of the Christian disciple, our mission is to love.  We are supposed to love, we can feel it deep down in our hearts.  And the stakes are high, in the second reading St. John tells us: if we don’t love, we don’t know God, for God is love.  Wow, pretty amazing.  If we don’t love we don’t know God.
I think we all want to know God, don’t we?  Love is the pathway to our relationship with him.  If we have love, we know God; if we don’t, we won’t.  Pretty powerful.  John Paul II once said that love is the fundamental vocation of every human being.  So whether you are a mother, a father, a child, a priest, a religious sister, it doesn’t matter, we are called to love.  Only by love will we find happiness and fulfillment in this life.  Why is love to important? 
St. John gives us a great insight in the second reading: because God is love.  God is love.  It is so simple, yet so beautiful.  This one sentence might have been the first thing we learned about God in school or in religious education.  I think I can remember making signs that say: God is love, when I was a kid.  A few years back Pope Benedict wrote an encyclical titled Deus Caritas Est, God is love.  Yet with anything that is so basic and fundamental, it can easily be one of those things we take for granted without really thinking too much about it.
God is love.  How do we know that God is love?  He created the universe.  God is sufficient in himself, he didn’t need to create us, but he did because he loved us.  Then what happened, we went astray.  How do we know God still loved us?  He sent Jesus to be our savior.  How do we know Jesus loved us?  He died on the cross.  How do we know he still loves us even today?  He gives us the Holy Eucharist.  If we have eyes to see it, we can see the love of God everywhere around us.  We know that God loves us because he made us, he sent Jesus to save us, he feeds us through the Eucharist.  There is a lot of love there.
            Since the whole universe is made through love, and since we were made through love, this is why love is so important to us.  Love literally brought us into existence, and if we are going to be true to who we are, we need to love.  God is love, he made us in his image and likeness, so if we are going to be happy we need to love.
But, one thing we might forget if all we do is listen to love songs or watch romantic comedies, is that love is hard.  Love is never easy.  Jesus tells us to love today, but he tells us to love one another as he loved us.  Look again at the love he has for us.  He died for us, he gave everything for us.  Now, if we want to know God, if we want to inherit the eternal life Christ promises us, if we want to a share in that resurrection, we must fulfill the command of Christ: love on another.
If you are like me, you hear Jesus’ command: love one another as I love you, and you might get a little discouraged.  How can I love like Jesus loved?  I’m too weak, too sinful, too proud, too selfish.  But, rather than seeing this as a condemnation, let the words of Jesus inspire you all over again.  When Jesus commands us to love he does so because he really thinks we can do.  And he really knows that this is what is absolutely best for us, even though love is never easy.  Ask your mother today on Mothers’ Day if love is easy.  But, love is always worth it. 
What a beautiful gift we have in the Holy Eucharist.  This sacrament of love is given to us by Christ to be a great lesson in humble, serving, love.  He literally gives himself away for our benefit, and then he calls us to go and do likewise.  This I command you, love one another. 

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