Sixth Sunday of Easter

Today is Mother’s Day. So many people have good happy memories of celebrating this day from childhood. Many of you have a good happy memories of celebrating this day as mothers, and being celebrated by your own children or grandchildren. And yet there are also those of us who are not mothers. And those of us who unfortunately did not have the best experience or best relationship. Too many times relationships with parents are not what they should be. So what do we do in order to understand how this relates to our relationship with God?

Our God calls us to the best relationships possible. Our God speaks to us of His own love that He, in turn, gives to us. Jesus tells us in today’s Gospel that the Father loves Him. Jesus then tells us that He loves us as the Father loves Him. That is the strongest statement of love that could ever be made. Next – Jesus calls us to follow His commandments, to be faithful to His commandments. That is how we remain in His life. His words are very clear. He also tells us to go forth and bear fruit.

What does it mean to bear fruit? Jesus is talking about spiritual fruit. He is talking about relationships. We see this happening in our reading from the Acts of the Apostles today. Peter shares with the Gentiles (the non-Jews) the message of Jesus. Remember that in the early days of the Church there was debate about whether or not the message of Jesus was to be extended to non-Jews (i.e. Gentiles). Having received the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, Peter clearly understands that the message and salvation offered by Jesus is intended for everyone.

Now think about this. Peter goes to those who were thought to be outside of God‘s love. Peter goes to those who were thought to be difficult to love. Peter goes to those who were thought to be written off or dismissed. That is exactly what Jesus did. Jesus went to those who needed His love the most. He went to the unwanted and to the cast aways‘s.

If we follow this example, then we too must reach out in kindness to those who are – in our mind – difficult to love. This may even be some members of our own family. Many of us have broken relationships with family members, perhaps even parents or children. This is a painful reality. What can we do to reach out to these people? Even if they reject or slap away our effort, we still can send a simple message wishing that person well. Perhaps we will never have a fully restored or fully healed relationship with this person. That may not be possible.

However, what amount of kindness can you offer? Perhaps you can send a message that says, “I’m thinking of you,” or “I am praying for you” or “I am always willing to talk to you” or “I am wishing you the best blessings of God”. Perhaps these are messages that you can send. We send them not based on how they will be received, but rather based on our love for God and our effort to love those who are a challenge to us.

If we do this then we are increasing the love of God in this world. We are increasing generosity and patience and kindness in this world – and that way we share in the creative activity of our God as we bring about things of His Spirit. This is by no means easy. But it is following the example of our God

One final thought for today, Peter knew his relationship with Jesus. When someone tried to worship Peter as a God or as divine, Peter gently corrected the person saying, “I am just a man.” Peter knows that he is not to be placed higher than Jesus. Because of his firm connection with Jesus, Peter knows who he is. And the same thing is true for us. When we know who Jesus is in our life, then we know who we are. We are not shaken by what other people say to us – that is very important. Because it allows us to have a sense of who we are rooted in our relationship with Christ. Whether we are well received or poorly received, we still know that we are the beloved of our God. It is God‘s love for us that gives us a sense of who we are. It is from God‘s love for us that we are able to have healthy relationships with others. As Jesus shares the Father‘s love for Him with us, we share Jesus His love for us with others. It continues to overflow and grow.

This Mother’s Day let us celebrate the creative love of our God. Hopefully we experience this through healthy nurturing supportive relationships with our own mothers. Let us receive God‘s love and give it to others. Jesus tells us, “As the Father loves me, so I love you.” How wonderful it would be if we could live every day saying to others – as Jesus loves me, so I love you.

First Reading
Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48

The gift of the Holy Spirit was poured out on the Gentiles also.

A reading from the Acts of the Apostles

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. :

R. (cf. 2b) The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

Sing to the LORD a new song,
   for he has done wondrous deeds;
his right hand has won victory for him,
   his holy arm.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

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.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

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.

R. The Lord has revealed to the nations his saving power.
R. Alleluia.

Second Reading
1 Jn 4:7-10

God is love.

A reading from the first Letter of Saint John

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.

Jn 15:9-17

No one has greater love than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.

✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to John

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.”

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