Hi everyone... here's my homily for the SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER - May 21, 2017. The readings for today can be found at: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/052117.cfm. As always, thanks so much for stopping by; for sharing this blog on Twitter, Facebook and Reddit - and for all your comments and feedback. Grateful for all your support! God Bless - Fr Jim
What's your love language?
That was my reaction when a group of students asked me that question. It was one of those moments when they all knew what they were talking about but I was clueless (a moment that seems to be happening more and more these days, but I digress). I asked what magazine or what guru was peddling this "love language" mumbo jumbo - as they put a quiz before me to answer a few questions which would determine what category I fell into. The creators of this theory claim that there are 5 different categories which describe the most effective way for someone to demonstrate their love to different people based on their personalities, their temperaments, their likes/dislikes. Obviously there are aspects of each of these that appeals to everyone to different degrees. But the developers of this test claim that of the countless ways people express themselves, that when we boil them all down, they can be characterized in 5 specific groups and that one out of the 5 speak the loudest to each of us:
1 - words of affirmation - for those who fall into this group, when someone uses simple, but honest and direct words to build the other person up, that is greatly appreciated.
2 - quality time - for people who this appeals to, what is most meaningful is giving that person undivided, un distracted attention
3 - giving gifts - while this is something that most people enjoy, for some, receiving gifts is the loudest expression of love
4 - acts of service - for those who fall into this category - the simple act of taking care of an annoying chore like taking out the trash, setting the table, speaks louder than any material gift could.
And 5 - physical touch... For those who fall into this category, an embrace, a hug, a kiss are important, significant acts that speak deeply to them.
One of the things that the students enjoyed was trying to guess what category each of their friends and classmates would fall into. It was also interesting how quickly they figured mine out - saying "acts of service" and pointing out how happy I am when I come back to the Newman Center and see people have actually cleaned up or taken care of some household chores without me having to ask someone to do so.
I was surprised at what an in-depth and interesting conversation this turned into. We tend to think that expressing our love for those who are nearest and dearest to us should be an easy thing to do. Yet anyone who’s worked with married couples will tell you that’s part of the problem. People simply expecting that the other person knows how best to express themselves and their feelings to another person.
As we get to this late part of Easter - with the celebration of Jesus’ Ascension into heaven this Thursday and the end of the Easter season quickly coming in two weeks with Pentecost, today we as a Church reflect on a Gospel passage which is another flashback to Holy Thursday. This Gospel address has Jesus speaking to his apostles at the Last Supper. Before the horrific events that will take place on Good Friday... Before the amazing, awesome, life-changing events of Easter Sunday - Jesus is speaking very intimately with those closest to Him. And by our Baptisms, we’re included in that personal, intimate circle as one of Jesus’ close friends... His brothers and sisters. And what we hear him express today is His love language. Jesus explaining how we can demonstrate our Love for Him.
Jesus quite clearly tells us - If you love me, you will keep my commands... (and then again he reiterates the point) whoever has my commandments and observes them is the one who loves me. And in a sense, that incorporates all 5 of the love languages. Because those commandments are more than feelings, emotions, sentiments... Those commandments call for actions, choices, decisions that are far reaching... Are we ready to love Jesus in His language? Because if we are, we find:
Jesus love language is about intentionally caring for the poor, the sick, the weak and vulnerable. Finding ways materially, spiritually that we’re actively being attentive to those who are struggling.
Jesus love language is about defending and protecting the life of everyone from the womb, to the terminally ill, to the one sentenced to death. Which means going out of our comfort zones and putting ourselves into really difficult positions where we walk with someone who is dying... defending someone who’s done defenseless things but still recognizing the dignity of all life... and yes, speaking out against abortion and lending our voices to protect those who cannot speak.
Jesus love language is about offering forgiveness and working towards reconciliation with those who have hurt us. That might mean we have to start by simply recognizing a hurt, allowing ourselves to face a painful thing and just being open to the idea of getting to a place of forgiveness.
Jesus love language is about loving our enemies. Often times our impulse is to say we don’t have any - so we might have to dig deep, seeing that we have enemies - maybe not personally, but individuals, people who work against what we believe, what we work for - and trying to find loving responses to them.
Jesus love language is about feasting on His word and His Body and Blood in the Eucharist. Recognizing our spiritual hunger - and looking to Him as the only source that can truly nourish us.
Jesus love language is about you and I sharing His word and becoming His body to the rest of the world. More and more people are disconnected from Jesus... from His Church... then at any time in our histories. So you and I might be the only face of Christ that some people might ever see... It’s important.
All of this is important... All of it is more demanding, and challenging then sending flowers, patting someone on the back, setting the table, taking a walk or simply saying I love you. Jesus’ expectations are more all-consuming. Which makes sense when we see that his act of love on the cross was all consuming as well. When we begin to keep his commands... striving to do all these things... we speak Jesus’ love language - and demonstrate not just our love for Him, but for one another. It’s a powerful and impacting love language for all to show that God is here among us.