Gospel John 14:15-21
Jesus said to his disciples:
“If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
And I will ask the Father,
and he will give you another Advocate to be with you always,
the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot accept,
because it neither sees nor knows him.
But you know him, because he remains with you,
and will be in you.
I will not leave you orphans; I will come to you.
In a little while the world will no longer see me,
but you will see me, because I live and you will live.
On that day you will realize that I am in my Father
and you are in me and I in you.
Whoever has my commandments and observes them
is the one who loves me.
And whoever loves me will be loved by my Father,
and I will love him and reveal myself to him.”
In the history of our faith we started out with more than 600 commandments. Then when Moses brought the commandments to us we got down to 10. When Jesus got to us, he brought it down to two. So Jesus is really hitting at the very core of what is going to make this whole thing work — this kingdom that has all kinds of division, where people don’t speak to each other, they kill each other, they fight one another, and they don’t even love themselves. They drink themselves to death, they take drugs and die, they commit suicide, they don’t have success. Jesus says, “You know, in the midst of all of that, the thing that binds it all together is love.”
When we bring it down into our own life, it helps us to sharpen our understanding of love. The question that Jesus would ask us this morning is, “Since you were here last Sunday, think of the experiences of love that have taken place in your life this week.”
Number one: What did you think of yourself this week? Have you loved yourself? Have you taken time for yourself?”
Two: How did you give love away? Maybe you noticed it, maybe you didn’t notice it. It could have been at work, it could be at home. But how did you give it away?
And last, who touched your life with love?
Let’s take a look at loving ourselves.
Unless you and I love ourselves we have nothing to give away. Sometimes that is when self-pity comes into our life. “Nobody likes me, nothing is going my way. God should know better and he should know that I need this.” And life goes on until you are not even happy. You are having a bad day.
Somebody would say, “Here’s fifty dollars. Go out and have lunch.”
You answer, “I don’t want your fifty dollars.”
We’re just not in the mood to really like who we are.
When it comes to loving someone else, it means you have to do it from your heart.
Yesterday we had two young men ordained to the priesthood, and Bishop Paprocki was giving the homily and he started off the homily by saying, “Last week my younger brother came down from Chicago because his son, who was 10 or 11, was in a ball tournament in Chatham, Illinois, that is located just south of Springfield. They told me they were coming and I was free so I went to the ballgame with them.”
He said, “We had a game at 1 p.m., we had a game at 4, and we had a game at 7. And I realized how much my brother loved his son. It wasn’t about, ‘Did we win or lose, or about how many games.’ But what my nephew will remember is that my dad and my uncle were there. He’s too young to worry about how many games we had to sit through. He will just remember that we were there.”
It is also true for all the girls who go through dancing recitals. What’s that all about? If it wasn’t your child, or your grandchild, or your niece, or your nephew, you might have something else to do. But because it is someone you love it makes all the difference in the world. You go and you are there for them.
That is what Jesus is asking, “What did you do this week when you really showed someone my love for you?”
Then we come to: How is someone else loving us? I gave this example last night at Mass. I said, “You know, you spend your whole life telling your children what to do and how they should do it. Then all of a sudden you get to a certain age and your children begin to tell you what you should be doing, and how you should be doing it. And your kids question you as to why you are doing something in a certain way.”
And the people laughed, they had a blast. And after Mass one person after the other came up and told me, “We were laughing while you were talking. Our adult children are always telling us what to do.” And one couple said, “Just the other day our children said to us, ‘you know, you both need to lose some weight. And you ought to do this, and you both should do that.’ ”
What does this all mean? It simply means that your children are trying to say, “We love you. We care about you. We’ll do anything for you.”
Now, when it comes to God’s love for us: For God, there is no boundary. He just keeps on loving us. That’s why it’s so neat that whatever we do in the way of sin, he’s right there waiting to forgive us because he knows that sin just weighs us down. God says, “Spiritually, if you want to love yourself and if you want someone else to love you and you want to love someone else, I have to be in your life.”
That’s why you and I come to Eucharist. It’s simply, “I need to be here. Whether it’s the best week of my life or the worst week of my life, I simply need to be here.”
So, this morning, as we are winding out of the Easter Season and maybe we have forgotten about Easter eggs and Easter bunnies and outfits and everything else, Jesus says, “You are approaching Pentecost and that’s the celebration of all this love coming together. And it just blossoms and oozes out.”
I don’t know how many of you have been up to Chicago where they have the Buckingham Fountain. It is a huge fountain right on the lake. When you are there in the summer time and that fountain is gushing — you can sit on the bench and watch the water ooze out all over the place.
But if it’s not in the nice weather, it’s just a fountain. No one stands around, they just walk by it.
That is what Jesus is telling us. He says, “There is one thing about my fountain. It gushes in all seasons, at any time, and whenever you open your eyes and receive it — that fountain of love is all over the place. All you have to do is just take it in.”
That’s what you and I forget most of the time. If I’m not loving myself, that fountain is dead. If I’m not loving you in some way, that fountain is dead. If I don’t see someone reaching into my life, that fountain is dead. But when you and I absorb it all it’s the most beautiful thing there is to see — people loving each other, caring for each other and having a smile on their face.
The other day I was at the hospital and a gentleman was sitting on the edge of his bed. The nurse came in and she looked at him and said, “You know, I don’t think you need any medication. You haven’t stopped smiling since the day you came into this hospital.” The man looked up at her, and smiled, and said, “That’s all I’ve got, and that’s what I give away. And if I can make a difference in someone’s life with a smile, that’s all that matters.”
Where are you on the scale?
Are you loving yourself?
Are you loving someone else?
And do you know that someone else is loving you?
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.