Sixth Sunday of Easter, B
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4; 1 Jn 4:7-10; Jn 15:9-17
(Scriptures included after homily)
PROLOGUE – On Censure
It was cautioned that this homily has the potential of being taken out of context by those who tend to hear a single word or phrase, not listen to (or read) any of the content of the remainder of the homily, and then jump to their own conclusions about what it means.
For example, if one goes to the store and sees a big sign that says “S A L E !” does that necessarily mean that the items ON or FOR sale are going to be any cheaper than the same items next door, or the same item’s price last week, or even next week? NO, it just means that anyone can buy the items. The SALE sign says nothing about the relative price of the items! BUT it did get a lot of people’s attention. And there are probably more people who will (thoughtlessly) buy the items, than if the sign was not there. Maybe they presume it is cheaper, better or has limited availability, without ever thinking about the actual meaning of the sign. And in reality they may even be spending more.
If there is any possibility of that behavior in your reading of this homily, PLEASE STOP HERE, do not continue, this article is NOT for you. But if you can read it with an open mind and heart, and finish it to the end, maybe this homily can spark some new thoughts, new insights for yourself. And I’m very open for discussion through the “Comments” option. Thank you for visiting, reading and just ‘BEING’.
The opening line of this homily is what I would call an “attention grabber,” like the SALE sign. It is a ‘true’ statement and throughout the homiletic discussion I explain why. As a matter of fact, by the time we get to the end of the homily, the reader/listener may have a whole new concept of what the “controversial term” in this homily truly means, as opposed to its political connotation.
The bottom line is that this controversial term truly IS a political issue. It is an issue which I really do not even touch upon in the homily! And this is the issue of abortion. Abortion is no more or less of a “choice” than choosing to buy an item for “SALE”, or choosing to kill your neighbor, or choosing to eat that big chunk of chocolate. The question is not Pro-Choice vs Pro-Life, the question is Pro-Death vs Pro-Life and as we’ll see, Life is not even a choice – it JUST IS.
As the Scriptures tell us today, OUR CHOICE is either to “Remain in” / preserve Life or NOT. In reality, if Uncle Sam would ever come to the awakening truth that ALL life is precious, not just whatever he deemed economically beneficial, and he thereby outlawed abortion, we’d still find that if individuals CHOSE to destroy life in their womb, or in the nursing home, or even in our public buildings and streets, they would find a way, regardless of the law – as we see every day in the news. The whole subject is much, much deeper than what I can possibly say in a short paragraph, and this is not the page for that discussion.
In the end God will be the judge of the morality or “Christianity” of every CHOICE we’ve EVER made! And the only reason we have that Freedom of Choice in the first place is because of His Love . . .
Now, I know that we’re not supposed to talk about politics at Mass, but today’s readings prompt us to make an exception, because today we learn that God is very pro-choice.
You see it all started when God gave that ‘Freedom of Choice’ to our earliest of ancestors, Adam and Eve. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve used that freedom to make a very poor choice. It was a choice that actually separated them from God, their source of Life. Of course God’s Love for his children never flinched in the process. But He had to be pretty creative to repair that breach in their love, their faith, without ever taking away from them, His gift of free will.
So in His elaborate plan for the salvation of humanity, God chose people with names like: Abraham and Sarah, Isaac, Jacob and Joseph, Judah, Moses and David. God gave all of these people important choices, which sometimes they made wisely and sometimes not so wisely. It was through this line of Abraham that the ultimate choice between life and death would be offered to the world. That choice would eventually come through God Himself, in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Yet, even God’s entrance into humanity itself, relied primarily upon the ‘free-will choice’ of a human. And her name was Mary. Mary chose to assist God in His ‘Plan of Salvation’, by accepting His offer and allowing herself to be used as ‘His Holy Tabernacle’. In doing this, she would become the Ark of a New Covenant between God and all of humanity. Mary would be the Mother of God.
This was actually a life and death choice for Mary, because in those days, to be pregnant-with-child, out of wedlock, was a capital offense. And even knowing that, Mary still accepted the risk, because of her great love for our God.
The consequence of Mary’s choice was not easy for her, nor for Jesus, as any mother would attest. To watch your boy mocked for his belief or hurt by others, is almost unbearable for a loving mom, let alone seeing him tortured and killed. Today, this Mother’s Day, we give thanks to Mary and to all of our moms – for their love, and for their patience with us, and for all of their difficult choices. You see, our God is definitely pro-choice.
Jesus chose obedience to His Father. Jesus accepted the risk of pain and death in order to complete God’s Plan of our Salvation from Adam and Eve’s poor choice. And in order to assure that every person who ever existed after Jesus’ resurrection, was given the choice to be part of God’s Salvation, Jesus chose twelve men with diverse talents and personalities to spread His message of Love.
You see, every one of God’s choices is based on Love. It could be no other way, because, as St. John reminds us, “God is Love.” And since God created Life, that life was designed, created and made for Love. In turn, Love was designed, created and made for Life. And thus, God and Love and Life are ONE.
Now, since God had already made the choice for Life, then that choice cannot be made over again by us. The only choice left for us, is death. Remember, Jesus said, “It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you…”
So God gives us the freedom to make one of two choices. We can either choose death, or we can choose to “remain in the Life” that God has already chosen for us, that is, to remain – In His Love. We choose death when we choose to sin. And sin is anything that separates us from God, from love. We choose to remain in His Love, as Jesus explained, by keeping His Commandment. And that Commandment is to “Love one another as Jesus has loved us.”
This love is not just a warm, fuzzy feeling of selfish attraction. The ‘Love of Jesus’ is something so deep within us, that we can not help ‘doing things for others’ that might even cause us pain, even to the point of our own mortal death, because of our love for them. And yet we know that our own mortal death would really just be our entrance into eternal life, when our mortal lives are based on the Love of Jesus.
And when we choose to remain in His Love, we discover the reward of His Joy. The JOY of Jesus’ Love in-us is something so great, so awesome, so intense, that it’s very reflection back from the faces of those we meet almost blinds us, ourselves! Peter and the Apostles saw that Joy in the faces of Cornelius, the Gentile (non-Jew), and his family.
Even though God’s Salvation came by way of the Jewish ancestry, from Abraham through Jesus, this New Covenant, made by the Lifeblood of Mary and through the Sacrificial Blood of Jesus, together with the Father and the Holy Spirit, gives all of us – the CHOICE, this very day, to remain with God, in Love and Life Forever, . . . OR, to die in total separation from the very source of Life itself, our God. Now, that’s pro-choice! And it’s OUR responsibility, our call, to let the world know, that it’s their choice too!
Scripture Readings for Mass of 05-13-12
Sixth Sunday of Easter, B
First Reading: Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48
When Peter entered, Cornelius met him and, falling at his feet, paid him homage. Peter, however, raised him up, saying, “Get up. I myself am also a human being.” Then Peter proceeded to speak and said, “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever fears him and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.”
While Peter was still speaking these things, the Holy Spirit fell upon all who were listening to the word. The circumcised believers who had accompanied Peter were astounded that the gift of the Holy Spirit should have been poured out on the Gentiles also, for they could hear them speaking in tongues and glorifying God. Then Peter responded, “Can anyone withhold the water for baptizing these people, who have received the Holy Spirit even as we have?” He ordered them to be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ.
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 98:1, 2-3, 3-4
R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
Sing to the LORD a new song, for he has done wondrous deeds;
His right hand has won victory for him, his holy arm.
The LORD has made his salvation known: in the sight of the nations he has revealed his justice. He has remembered his kindness and his faithfulness toward the house of Israel.
All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation by our God.
Sing joyfully to the LORD, all you lands; break into song; sing praise.
Second Reading: 1 Jn 4:7-10
Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins.
Gospel: Jn 15:9-17
Jesus said to his disciples: “As the Father loves me, so I also love you. Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father”s commandments and remain in his love.”
“I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete. This is my commandment: love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this,
to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command you. I no longer call you slaves, because a slave does not know what his master is doing. I have called you friends, because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father.
It was not you who chose me, but I who chose you and appointed you to go and bear fruit that will remain, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name he may give you. This I command you: love one another.”