Fourth Sunday of Easter

When I was growing up we would go to my Grandma Hougan‘s house every Sunday afternoon to have Sunday dinner. My grandmother raised four children by herself in the 40s and 50s. She did not have a lot of money. However, she put on a feast for us every Sunday. As an adult now I truly wonder how she managed.

She must have used most of her meager funds just to make this meal for us every Sunday. Never once did she speak of the sacrifices she made in order to create this loving family moment.

We would enter her house and immediately the wonderful aroma‘s word come to us. She would be up early making pot roast and handmade pies. She never used a recipe in her life. She did everything by experience and her own feel. There would be a sideboard table with treats. We would have both green olives and black olives. There would be crackers and cheese spread – all in her finest cut glass serving dishes. There would be rolls. She would make homemade mashed potatoes. She would have her green bean casserole. And of course it was a formal table sitting with her China and glass serving dishes. This gave us a tremendous sense of comfort and belonging. It made us feel special.

The reason I’m sharing this childhood memory with you today is because so many of you had a similar experience. This is a very common family moment. This is what family and home should be. It is a place where we are loved. It is a place where we are claimed. Is this a place where we are known. It is a place where we belong.

Jesus knows that the family experience of home can be a powerful experience of love. In order for us to better understand our relationship with God, Jesus uses this family experience to help explain our relationship with God. Jesus frequently compares our relationship to God with that of the family especially parent to child.

Saint John in our reading today picks up this image and again presents it to us. He tells us that we are children of our God. This is a powerful statement. It reminds us of who and what we are created to be. We are created in God’s image. We are to be like God. This means that we are people who live in his spirit. One example is that God is slow to anger. Are we slow to anger? We have a gentle God, a tender God, Are these traits of our individual spirit? We have a compassionate God. We have a loving God.

In today’s Gospel Jesus tells us of His great devotion for us. He uses another example from the lived experience of the people during his time on earth. He speaks of the relationship of shepherd to flock. In this image Jesus communicates his sacrificial love for us. He gives of himself in order to take care of us. Do we give ourselves in order to care for others? How willing are you to inconvenience yourself in order to take care of someone else? That is a real measure of your love for the other person. The more you are willing to be inconvenienced, the more sacrifices you are willing to make, the more you demonstrate your love for that person.

Today let us renew our identity as the children of our God. Let us re-dedicate ourselves to living in His Spirit. Let us be thankful for the sacrifice of the Cross that shows us His devoted love. And may we follow His example of giving of ourselves to take care of others

If we do these things then we truly will live as the children of our God.

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