6th Sunday of Easter (Fr. Francis)
Six Sundays ago, we celebrated Easter. Throughout this month we will celebrate First Holy Communion in our parish and next Sunday the Ascension of the Lord. Two weeks from now we will celebrate Pentecost. And in seven months and sixteen days, we will celebrate Christmas. Time moves quickly: so many parents and teachers in our community know this. It seems like the first day of first grade was only a few days ago. And now there is a high school or college graduation. It seems like the baptism was only a few months ago and next Saturday is First Communion. Time moves quickly. The images of our memories move quickly. The images of our relationships move so very quickly through our memories.
Images are powerful. Images are filled with memory and emotion. They speak to us. Images tell our story. They tell us our history and our values. Images tell us about our relationships. I am the Good Shepherd. I know my sheep and my sheep know me. Images tell us about our unity. I am the vine, and you are the branches. We are precious in the sight of the shepherd and we draw our life from the vine. We are fed by the shepherd and nourished by the vine. The images move so quickly. Time moves so quickly.
And maybe that is why, when there was only a little time left on that Holy Thursday evening, Jesus spoke so directly: I no longer call you slaves, but my friends. I have called you friends because I have told you everything I have heard from my Father. Jesus Christ calls each of us his friend.
A sheep is purchased or born into a flock and a branch springs forth from the vine; a friend is chosen. A friend shares in the joys. A friend shares in the meal. A friend shares in the hopes and the dreams, the tears, and the triumphs. A friend shares in the suffering and the grief. A friend shares in the silence when words are no longer necessary. And Jesus calls each of us his friend.
Friendship is dangerous. It is easy to get hurt. When Jesus calls the disciples his friends at the Last Supper, Judas has already left. Peter, who will deny him only a few hours later, is still reclining at the table. The other disciples will abandon Jesus so quickly when the guards arrest him. Jesus calls them friends and soon afterward they run away. Friendship is dangerous. It is easy to get hurt. An open heart is easily pierced. And yet, Jesus Christ calls each of us his friend.
Jesus calls us friends. He chose us to be his friends. Jesus came to meet us. Simon and Andrew were not looking for Jesus while they were fishing. Jesus was looking for them. Matthew was not looking for Jesus. Matthew was sitting at the customs table. Jesus was looking for him. Jesus chose his disciples, and he chooses to call them his friends. Jesus called us to be his disciples and he chooses to call us his friends. We are friends of Jesus Christ. He has called each of us his friend.
And that means that we share in the joys and the sufferings in the heart of Jesus. We share in the agony in the garden. We share in the scourging at the pillar. We share in the cross . . . and we share in the empty tomb. We share in the victory over sin and death. We share in the glory of God which shines on the face of Jesus Christ. Jesus shares everything with us. We are more than sheep. We are more than branches. We are friends of Jesus Christ.
And now, Jesus Christ invites us to his table. We come quickly to the banquet where Christ the Savior, the High Priest of our confession, and the Lamb who once was slain but lives forever, calls us his friends, and feeds us for eternal life.
Today we thank our mothers, pray for them, and honor them by celebrating Mother’s Day offering our mothers on the altar of God.
This is a day to admit gratefully the fact that none of us can return, in the same measure, all the love that our mothers have given us. Their influence on their children is so great that it affects the children throughout their lives. Our mothers not only gave us birth but nursed us, nurtured us, trained us in their religious beliefs and practices, taught us good manners and ideal behavior, disciplined us as best as they could, and made us good citizens of our country, our Church, and our society. There is a beautiful Spanish proverb: “An ounce of mother is better than a pound of clergy.” Hence, it is highly proper for us to express our love and gratitude to our mothers by our presence (if possible), gifts, and prayers on Mother’s Day. We offer this Eucharistic celebration on Mother’s Day for all the mothers in our congregation, whether they are alive here or have gone for their eternal reward. The word “Mom” is synonymous with sacrificial, agápe love in its purest form, as commanded by Jesus in his farewell speech: “Love one another as I have loved you.” Hence, let us lavish our love on our mothers and express our gratitude for them in the form of fervent prayers offered for them before God.
On Mother’s Day, let us acknowledge the truth that we have two mothers: our earthly mother and our Heavenly Mother, the Mother of Jesus. The Catholic Church proclaims the great nobility of the Mother of Jesus, Mary most holy, and presents her as the supreme model for all mothers. On this Mother’s Day, presenting all mothers on the altar, let us sing the beautiful song we sing on the Feast of the Presentation, “Gentle woman, peaceful dove, teach us wisdom, teach us love.” Let us show our love and appreciation for both of our mothers and let us ask our Heavenly Mother to take care of our earthly mothers. We need to be persons for others, sacrificing out time, talents, and lives for them as our mothers are now or have been. Amen.
Fr. A. Francis HGN