HOMILY: LET LOVE ABOUND
(Blog Version–expanded text.)
In this Sunday’s Gospel, Jesus talks of the whole new era to come for humanity ahead. It would get inaugurated in His Passion, Death, Resurrection, and Ascension into Heaven, and via the Pentecost Event to follow. It is the Reign of His Heart.
You and I are now living in that new era. “The Kingdom has come within you,” preached the Savior. So–do believe it. Jesus is in our hearts. We are in His continued Era of Love, 2016. He is alive in our hearts.
Since humankind would be washed clean in His offering and be restored unto God, Jesus, then, could speak at His Last Supper, of such a New Way and of a New Commandment of Love to come through His triumph. This is our joy, that, now we CAN be united to God’s heart and live life through His love. It is a Heart-to-heart Era in this present time with God. Our parish mission and our latest dvd mission talks have been on this theme of Jesus’ Love. By His Divine Mercy we are ushered into His Way of Love. Let us live in it!
“Love one another” was an Old Testament phrase of God to His people, but this is more than that exhortation. Jesus is saying it anew of how we will now be able to “love one another as He has loved.” Our loving was getting elevated and changed, via the triumph of His Heart. Jesus was accomplishing a new start for the human race. Not salvation from sin alone, as in one deposit of grace and done, but Jesus was speaking as well of His Kingdom of Love come among us, to help us start living in it and being transformed in such love. Our dvd retreat speaker calls this ongoing mystery our “progressive transfiguration” in the Divine Mercy.
Jesus was announcing in His new command of Love that humankind was receiving an eternal newness to her experience and capacity. It would be a new Love with His soul in it. It is a love with eternity behind it. In Jesus’ Name. In us! It is Love Incarnate—so live on in His children. You and I!
I think of the same apostle John and his epistle exhortation to his parishes/faith communities in later decades following upon Jesus’ Paschal Mystery: “Children, let us love one another, for everyone who loves is born of God, and knows God—Those who love not, as such, know not yet their Lord, for God is Love. Thus— let us love one another—(via Him).” (1st John 4:7-8–and this epistle also points a lot to life in The Spirit for that loving.)
In this Gospel text of John we just proclaimed in Sunday Mass, Jesus was speaking there and then at His Last Supper and of His fulfilling such prophecies as of Ezekiel 36, when the Word said of The Anointed One’s ministry: “I will give them new hearts for old, and soft ones for stony ones…as I will put My Spirit within them.” Jesus was prophetically saying that Divine Love was now to transfer into believers’ hearts, and it would be possible by the Holy Spirit Whom He would send. We could live in His Spirit of Love. Conclusion? The world could now have not only “a” Sacred Heart in it, as Jesus of Galilee, but now very, very many hearts alive in that Sacred Heart of His. It is a multiplied love. It is Jesus love poured out through many! Right on to here in Bowie and our surroundings! All of it comes via our believing, with open hearts for Him.
He will love through our own choice to love others–and In His Name and Inspiration. Great things can happen by Jesus’ love at work!
What is that love one another example that you have found in your recent experiences? Do you pray frequently for Jesus’ love to pour forth from His Heart through yours and to other people?
This gospel prompts you to do such a thing regularly. Perhaps this week you could pray it and look to act on who or what God puts in your path of life to love, as He loves. Remember that part: The New Commandment is to love as He loves. (Or with His Heart in yours.)
We need Him to love us anew in that Heart. And He will pass on that love to others in need, via us.
Another reading to apply in this homily today is such: “They will know us, as Jesus’ people in the world, by our love shared for one another.” For Christians are called to come together in His Love. And, in our bond of love, we then spread love. ‘Right?!
Part Two– An application story.
Last weekend, I started to look at these Scripture readings that we heard today. I wanted to use the past week with its couple-of-day’s break to reflect on the Word and to see how I might put it into practice.
The first reading, with all the cities mentioned of Paul’s churches and faith communities, seemed to me to be like a string of parishes. I have been in my own parish versions of Pamphylia, Perga, Iconium, and the like—they have been parishes located in places like Medley’s Neck, Avenue, Bethesda, Rockville, Springbrook of Silver Spring, Laurel and Bowie. I was thinking of the kinds of Christian love that I have seen in those parish communities and cities and places, and how I had examples from parishioners of Jesus’ love in all of them, and how I remember sharing and receiving Jesus’ Love in each place, through to here and now.
Of course, wherever we are, and wherever we go, we are an ambassador of the Lord’s love. We need to be ready to live in Jesus’ heart in any situation. We also need to be ready to receive Jesus in the way He comes to us.
I had such an example this week.
I was taking the Amtrak train back from New York City to New Carrollton station. It was Tuesday afternoon. I had a quick trip up that was now rebounding back, and speedily, on the rails. Upon boarding at Penn Station New York, I had found a nice window seat with tray table to put my sandwich on for lunch, and my cd player to place upon so to listen to a book, the one of Mother Angelica’s life story. I put on my headphones, and I was good. The landscape of New York, New Jersey and Delaware were quickly going by outside.
An elderly man’s voice could be heard a few times behind me, about a half-car away, as he kept mentioning Pennsylvanian Station: “I am going to Pennsylvania Station in Baltimore and getting picked up there. Pennsylvania Station.” He also was bantering with some people nearby him in that part of the train, but I didn’t hear it much, especially with my cd player on. I got up to purchase a soda at the next dining service car, and passed the man with the Pennsylvania Station mantra. He was a friendly-looking old guy, a cross between Tony Bennett and Abe Vigoda, if you know those famous Italian men. Yet you could tell, as I did in saying hello to him, that he was learning challenged, an adult with difficulties socially and mentally. Yet he was happy hearted and friendly, though maybe too much so for the company around who didn’t want conversation with him. I chatted quickly with him as I went by, so you are getting off in Baltimore? He agreed, and told me that there were two stations in the Baltimore area, and he was de-boarding at Pennsylvania Station. That’s the one he was getting off at–to meet family there. I said, “Have a nice ride,” and got back to my seat. I was pondering there how odd it was that the man who got on at a station called Pennsylvania Station or Penn Station New York, would have a ticket to another Pennsylvania Station–Baltimore. They ought to have different names for each. Then I thought that one could also go from Union Station-Washington to Union Station-Chicago. I guess they expect riders to know where they are.
Yet this man did not know such differences well. I could hear the man ask aloud pretty clearly, to a passing food car attendant, of “When was Pennsylvania Station coming up?” and she said: “Sir, you got ON there, so it’s back in New York behind you.” Now the poor guy was confused. He asked the conductor going by: “When is my stop coming up?” The capped man said: “Not for awhile, as we are in New Jersey, and your ticket I see is for Baltimore.” The old guy piped up: “Yes, I am going to Pennsylvania Station!” The conductor moved on, saying back towards him: “Baltimore City–at least an hour away.”
A few times more I heard the passenger man say “Pennsylvania Station– I am going to Pennsylvania Station.” Everybody was informed of it now! And I know the conductor had to hear the man say it at least once or twice, plus know it by the passenger’s ticket of where and when this needy man had to get off.
We passed through Philadelphia and came to Baltimore. I stayed in my seat listening to my tape. The conductor came through, announcing “Baltimore–next stop.” I figured the conductor or somebody tipped off the old guy to ready to de-train. When we pulled in, and I did not hear the old guy anymore, as I couldn’t see him as my seat faced the other way and about 10 rows away, so I had figured he gotten off. You never heard announced it was Pennsylvania Station, although if you looked out the window, you could spot some signs saying that. It was Baltimore. And then we were moving again.
As we neared the next station, BWI, and the conductor came through again announcing it ahead, all of a sudden I heard the old guy. He was asking: “Is this Pennsylvania Station?” But the conductor said: “Buddy, you missed it.” The guy said: “Baltimore has two stops, you said. The first one–you did not say: Pennsylvania Station. Is this it?” “No buddy, you missed it,” was the conductor’s answer as he walked off.
The old traveler’s phone rang, and he said to the voice on the other end: “No, there wasn’t a Pennsylvania Station. I am on the train still right now.”
The man’s panicked family realized that he was still aboard Amtrak and riding on south. They had been looking for him at the Baltimore Penn Station, knowing the train had left. Where was Pappi? Now they were scared for him. They asked him lots of fast questions in their call, and it flustered him. He hung up, not understanding what to do next. The conductor was now outside helping people de-board at BWI. Pappi was almost crying.
I knew his name now, because I was standing beside him. I had heard the callers. I said hello to him. “Remember me?” He said “Yes.” “I remember how you kept saying: “Pennsylvania Station. That’s where you were going… Well, you just missed it 15 minutes ago, as we were just there. And I am sorry no one helped you off,” said I, as I looked at all the passengers nearby him that had not gotten involved in helping him. I also wasn’t happy with the conductor, as he had taken the man’s ticket atop his seat, but failed to clearly alert the needy man of his stop. Yes. he had said Baltimore but Pappi was listening for Pennsylvania Station.
With Pappi sitting there dumbfounded, I knew how God had put me there to act in His mercy and love. I said: “I can help you, sir. My name is John. I am getting off at the next station, and I can help get you back to Pennsylvania Station. No worries. You will be an hour late, but you’ll get there. No problem. Do you think your family will call again? We need them to wait for you, or to come here to this new station.” He nodded. “I need your help, John. My name is Donald. My family calls me Pappi,” he said.
Then the phone rang again with his frantic family on the line, but I calmed them, and said I was an Amtrak Capitol Hill Headquarter worker’s son (which happens to be true in Dad’s last job) and that today I was a passenger on Pappi’s same train and that I was getting off at New Carrollton Station in a few minutes and, with my guidance, Pappi could be back in their hands soon at Penn Station Baltimore— my personal guarantee. Pappi agreed and they agreed upon the help.
I wasn’t dressed in my clergy garb, as you might have guessed here, nor did I announce it. I was content just to be John the Christian here.
Pappi and I de-trained at Carrollton and we went downstairs into the train station and checked on the time for returning MARC trains to Baltimore. I then called the family with a plan: “Hi, it’s John again, with your Pappi here. As you see, I am on his phone. Your choice of how we do this. #1. I drive up there to you at Pennsylvania Station in my car with Pappi. Or #2. You meet me half-way. Or,#3, the better way, we put him on the 337 MARC train and you wait for him up there.” They chose option C. It was just a $7 ticket to B’more.
I went up to track 2 with Pappi and he and I talked for a half-hour before his MARC train approached. I was going to be sure to stay with him and see that he did this last leg of his journey right. I gave him clear instructions on what to do. With his ticket in hand, he said goodbye before he got on board, and said “I was his “Guardian Angel.” He pulled out a crucifix on a chain that he was wearing under his shirt. He said: “See?! HE sent me a guardian angel. You.” I said: “I am a Catholic like you. There may be angels around, yet I am more like FAMILY to you, by Jesus. We are brothers in Jesus Christ. Catholic brothers.” He was delighted to find that out. “We are to love one another!,” I said to him, “because we are family in Jesus.” He nodded happily and smiled a big one to me.
“He used me today to help you, and love you, and he used you today to come into my life and bring your love and goodness, too, to me. It was a pleasure to meet you. Thanks.”
We hugged, and he got on board the train, heading to Baltimore.
This would be my lesson, to love another, as Jesus would do, through me. I got to practice this Gospel! And I think it all was led by Mercy. And here became my homily, too. This all happened last Tuesday. God was experienced through the mix, and He was served. I thought that my Dad, the said retired Amtrak man, would have been happy to see that exchange happen.
Maybe someday I will be riding Amtrak, and, as an aged man, and maybe with some senility issues or hearing or eyesight issues– and needing my own help making it off at my train stop—where maybe a niece or grandniece would be waiting for me–to return from another New York City visit. I hope someone will be there to care for me on the train too, then.
“Love One Another as I have loved you” sounds like a tall order, but it just takes God’s arranging for it to happen, and His love alive in your heart to His, and His bidding for you to be the one to act on His grace and charity, and have somebody be the benefactor of your giving, and you the blessed one to be part of Love going on in the world in Jesus’ Heart.