Acts 10: 44-48; Psalm 98; 1 John 5: 1-6; John 15: 9 - 17
THE REV. JAMES M.L. GRACE
In the Name of God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. AMEN.
Jesus shares with us the today the very heart of his teaching, which is to love one another, as we are loved by God. This is sounds great for a Sunday School class with young children, where they color pictures of Jesus and the word “love,” but for adults, love is more complicated. Today is Mother’s Day, a day where we celebrate the love we have for our mothers and they for us. But today is an illustration of love’s complex nature as some of us have strained (at best) relationships with our mothers. Some of us have been wounded by our mothers, and yet Jesus calls is to love all, including those who wound us.
Jesus modeled perfect love throughout his life, but even he seems to have lost his patience with his mother at that wedding in Cana of Galilee. I believe that as a society, one of the most pressing issues we face is how we are to love one another.
I am a product of a divorced household; a household where the kind of love Jesus talks about today was untenable. Yet I have learned over time that even divorce cannot overcome love. And not just divorce, but all our attempts to categorize people when we become upset with them because we find that easier to do than seeking to understand and love them. It is easier to harbor thoughts of prejudice, bigotry, or homophobia than it is to love a person. Love takes courage. Because if we choose to love a person, we are taking risk, and that risk is that we’ll get hurt – bad. That pain is often the price of love.
That kind of vulnerability might not seem very appealing to all of you, but consider the alternative. We are living in a time when many of us find it difficult to love, because of schedules, resentments, anger. These things hurt us – they hurt us so badly that we try to do anything in our power to numb ourselves to that deep pain. For some of us the answer to a lack of love in our lives is an affair. Others of us choose to numb ourselves with alcohol, prescription or illegal drugs, pornography, or any other kind of addictive behavior.
The good news about this bad news is that Jesus knows us better than we know ourselves. Jesus knows about our selfishness, our addictive behaviors, our misplaced anger, and the list goes on and on - and in spite of what Jesus knows about us, he loves us. None of that matters to him. And we are challenged to love accordingly. It’s an impossible task – but when we love one another without expectation for return or any strings attached we are like Christ.
Jesuit paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin believed that the natural movement of God’s creation is toward what he calls Christogenesis, toward becoming Christ – and that every act of our daily lives has the potential of moving the world toward Christ’s kingdom. If God is love, and Christ is in God, then every act of love increases Christ’s sway on the universe.
What power we have when we love! Do you believe a single act of love you demonstrate today impacts the entire universe? I do. Chardin writes that “the smallest act of love causes the very marrow of the universe to vibrate.”
I believe these acts of love move the universe in such a way as Chardin describes because they are so difficult to do, and when they happen, are a big deal. Jesus asks us to love one another without fear, without resentment, without judgment. That, my friends, is no easy task. And yet doing so, changes the entire universe.
Jesus challenges us to love others even when they are power hungry. To love others when they are inconsiderate, when they are angry and when they lash out blindly. We are called by Jesus to love others when they are selfish or insensitive, hateful, or blind to the needs of others.
This is not easy to do. But today is Mother’s Day. Regardless of whether your mother is alive or she has joined the communion of saints, regardless of what your relationship is toward her, the fact is at one point in history, a woman cared for you, and raised you, nursed you, changed your diaper – why? Because she loved you. Because you are a part of her, and she a part of you. Your mother in every way was Jesus to you.
This connection between mother and Jesus was not lost upon the fourteenth century saint Julian of Norwich, who said: “Jesus is our true Mother in nature by our first creation. And he is our true mother in grace by taking our created nature…He is our Mother, brother and savior.”
The love of Mother Jesus, as St. Julian describes, casts out all fear, melts all prejudice, and dispels all ignorance. It is the most powerful force in the universe, and God has placed this power of love into the palm of your hand. What will you do with it? AMEN.