Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter B ~ "Choosing Love" Dr. Susan McGurgan



Let us love one another because love is of God.


Remain in my love.


This is my commandment: love one another as I love you.


Scripture tells us that these two things are true.

1. That we are created in the image and likeness of God

2. God is love.


Jesus makes it

clear that love is not just our commandment

but our calling.

Love is our vocation as disciples.


Yet,

if we are called to a life of love--

if this is our primary commandment--

then why is it often so hard?


Maybe it’s because we don’t really understand love.

Maybe our view of love is so tied up

in our personal history and baggage

that we can no longer embrace it.


Maybe our idea of love is so skewed by Hallmark movies

and lace-filled valentines

and we can no longer recognize it.

Maybe our experience of love is so colored by cultural

and social trends

that we can no longer understand it.


Love—

Biblical Love—

is not sentiment,

emotion,

or feeling.

Biblical love

is a theological virtue.


Faith, Hope, and Charity, (or Love)—

These are the three theological virtues.

Now, this name, Theological Virtue,

sounds strange and abstract...

What does this have to do with me?

But these virtues are not esoteric, remote or inaccessible.

They are the very stuff of God;

the bedrock of our souls.


God infuses these virtues deep within us,

and they animate and give life to all other virtues.

Theological virtues give us the ability to act as God’s children.

They are God’s promise that the Holy Spirit

is active and working in our lives.


Charity, or love,

is the virtue by which we love God above all things,

and our neighbor as ourselves. (CCC 1822)


The practice of all other virtues—

prudence,

justice,

patience,

kindness—

is inspired and upheld by charity;

by this particular love which lifts us up;

sustains us;

empowers us;

invites and enables us to love God and each other. (CCC 1827)


This virtue offers us freedom. (CCC 1828)

Because we are created from love,

for love,

we will never stand before God as slaves,

trembling in fear.

Because we are created in love,

for love,

we will never relate to God

as paid mercenaries,

whose loyalty is commanded by the highest bidder

and the greatest division of spoils.


The virtue of love means

that we are sons and daughters of the King,

beloved and treasured heirs

who are invited into relationship through love.


This love was born before time itself.

It overflowed from the exuberance of a Creator

who exploded voids into planets,

and stars

and spiral galaxies.

This Creator

formed humans from stardust

and loved us into life.

This love continued to overflow

creating zebras,

and pileated woodpeckers,

and giant armadillos

and mountains capped with snow --

for no other reason

than joy

in the act of creation.


This love is infused deep within every person

every animal,

every insect,

every leaf that unfurls in the glint of spring.


This love

is not the sentimental jingle of a florist’s commercial

or the formulaic affection of a romantic comedy.

This love

is gritty and powerful and strong.

This love

was tested in the crucible of Gethsemane

and the agony of the crucifixion.

This love waited for us

in the stillness of the empty tomb.

This love is a way of witnessing to the Truth,

and like all true things,

responding to it—

embracing it—

living in it is not easy

or simple,

or without cost.


For many of us, love is difficult.

We hurt.

We are bound—

we are captive to sin, or fear,

or our own painful history.

We are broken and thirsty in ways we don’t fully understand.

We carry the weight of old scars

and live in the folds of new wounds.


We know that despite our love and our prayers,

marriages often fail;

children turn away from their childhood faith;

friends abandon or betray us.


Memories of these sorrows can return

with the ferocity of stealth bomber,

leaving us gasping for air,

and vowing

never

ever

to become vulnerable again.


It’s so much easier,

and safer,

to protect what we have

than remain open to pain.

Maybe…

we think,

Maybe love is for the weak,

and it’s better to be strong.

Maybe love is for the few and not the many.


The idea that life is rooted in scarcity rather than abundance

has a powerful hold on us.

We are tempted to see life as a zero sum game

with winners and losers,

lucky and unlucky,

blessed and cursed,

strong and weak,

beloved and scorned.


We scroll through carefully curated images on social media;

we read about the happiness and success of others

and it can be easy to believe that everyone we know is

prettier, happier, more accomplished—

more beloved.


We think….

maybe there really isn’t enough love and goodness to go around.

Maybe life is a pie chart with carefully measured slices of grace.

Maybe God really does favor some over others.


And love becomes hard.


But it helps to remember that love is not an emotion.

It is not feeling, sentiment, or whim.

Love is a virtue.

As a virtue, it is stronger,

and deeper

and more enduring

than anything life can throw.


Living into the Paschal Mystery of dying and rising teaches us

that love can co-exist with fear or disappointment.

Love can co-exist with grief and sorrow.

Love can endure sadness, anger, pain.

Love is a stance; a way of responding to life.

It is not rooted in our circumstances,

but in our relationship with God--

and that relationship endures.


Never fear that love is lost

because something is hard.

Never fear that love is lost

because we fail

or doubt.

Remember,

our Love carried a cross.

Our Love died so that we might live more abundantly.

That Love is poured out for us

each time we gather at the table.


Scripture tells us that these two things are true.

1. We are created in the image and likeness of God

2. God is love.

Everything else is commentary.

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