Homily for the 5th Sunday of Easter Year C
Theme: Love is our Mark
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Homily for Sunday, May 19 2019
For years, a prominent businessman was having an affair with an Italian woman. One night, she broke the news to him that she was pregnant. Needless to say, this greatly bothered him. His reputation and his marriage are at stake. So, in exchange for a large sum of money, he convinced her to fly back to Italy and give birth there. He further assured her that, if she stayed in Italy to raise the child, he would give full support for the child.
They managed to come up with a discrete way to communicate. As agreed, she would simply mail him a post card when the child is born, and write “Spaghetti” on the back. Then he would immediately send all the needed child support. Nine months later, he came home to find his wife holding a postcard, with a confused look on her face. “Darling”, she said, “this is a very strange post card for you.” “Oh, let me see,” he said. The wife handed him the card. Upon reading, the man fainted! On the card was written: “Spaghetti, Spaghetti, Spaghetti! Two with meatballs, one without. Send extra sauce!”
At the Last Supper, after Judas left the Upper Room to accomplish his act of betrayal, Jesus gave his most important teaching and commandment to his disciples: “I give you a new commandment: love one another.” Unfortunately, some people, like the man in our story, rearrange the words of this commandment and say, “Love another one.” That is when troubles come. I once had an elderly parishioner. He was happily married, but he was attracted to another lady parishioner. Every time he is near her, he would flatter her by singing a popular romantic song in Tagalog: “Sana, dalawa ang puso ko!” (“How I wish I had two hearts!)
Nowadays, people consider love as just an ordinary word. They often use this word so lightly in conversations that it has practically lost its real meaning and value. So, we casually say, “I love this car”; “I love my hair”; “I love my dog”; “I love this game”. We are not even bothered when we use it in a contradictory sense: “I love money”; “I love my ambition”; “I love my mistress.”
This Sunday let me point out several important elements of love according to the mind of Christ. In the first place, love is not something trivial and superficial. Rather, it is the central essence of Christian life, for indeed, God is love. Hence, love has the qualities of the divine: eternal, universal and infinite. And if we truly love, God dwells in us and we ourselves take on the qualities of God. This is what St. John the Apostle pointed out: “God is love, and whoever remains in love remains in God, and God in him” (1John 4:16).
Second, to love is not easy because the essence of love is self-giving. God showed this to us: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only Son” (Jn 3:16). Self-giving is never easy. On the contrary, it is always painful. Saint Teresa of Kolkata said: “True love causes pain. Jesus, in order to give us the proof of his love, died on the cross. A mother, in order to give birth to her baby, has to suffer. If you really love one another, you will not be able to avoid making sacrifices.”
Third, although love is a free and voluntary act, Jesus has commanded it: “I give you a new commandment: you love one another” (Jn 13:34). This may sound highly unusual. If love is commanded, then there is no more voluntariness, and hence it cannot be love. But this is not true in the case of Christian love. The love that Jesus talks about is agape – an act of the will whereby a person makes a decision to love the unlovable, and those who do not deserve to be loved. Jesus gives this command because he has done it himself and has set the example: “As I have loved you, so you also should love one another” (Jn 13:34).
Fourth, the only way whereby we can be known as Christ’s followers is by loving one another: “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another” (Jn 13:35). Nowadays we are dismayed at how difficult it is to bring people to the true faith. Rather than blaming others, it would make better sense if we examine ourselves. On many occasions, it is our failure to love that makes us impotent and fruitless witnesses of our faith. Again, Saint Teresa said: “If faith is scarce, it is because there is too much selfishness in the world, too much egoism. Faith, in order to be authentic, has to be generous and giving. Love and faith go hand in hand.”
Finally, love is the most powerful force in the entire universe. The Son of God came into the world, wielding neither riches nor military might but only with the power of love – and He conquered the world. We too can change and conquer this world by that same power. Love is the only solution to the problem of peace and poverty. It is the only power that can change the hearts of people. It is only love that can open the gates of Eternal Paradise.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
Our Lady of Guadalupe Parish Palmera Springs, Susano Road Camarin, Caloocan City 1422