Homily – 5th Sunday of Easter

   My friends, we continue on through the joy-filled season of Easter, proclaiming our “alleluias” in gratitude for all our loving God has done.  And rightly so!  Our God is truly good, truly good, in bestowing love upon us—for that is what the Incarnation is all about—letting us know we are loved.  And because we are loved, our God wants us to be the best people we are capable of being—thus, enter Jesus, our brother.  Following him will make this as near possible as can be within the confines of our humanity. 

   So, the Easter Season calls us to a balance—that of gratitude for life and love, but challenged too, to be about love in our own lives.  An overview of this Sunday’s readings describes, precisely that.

   The 1st reading from Acts shows Paul and his disciples spreading the Word throughout the ancient Greek world, and not just once, but returning to see how in fact, they are doing.   Now, even though the reading doesn’t say, in so many words, one has to believe that spreading the Word, for Paul, was “all about love,” realizing what an arduous trip his 1st missionary journey was.  It is thought that he and his companions traveled 500 miles by sea and 700 miles overland. 

   Beyond “love,” Paul’s character seems to be one of persistence—he seemed to let nothing get in the way of sharing the Word about the One who had so captivated his life.  And additionally, as today’s 1st reading shows, Paul was consistent in his praise of God for all he was able to accomplish in this regard.  I think we could say of Paul that he did in his life what Easter asks of each of Jesus’ followers—“rightful praise” of the One who gave, and continues to give us so much, and commitment to give back in action a portion, if not all, what we have been so generously given. 

   The 2nd reading from Revelation in this Easter Season takes a turn from the message given in the previous Sundays of Easter—that purely of praise to One that clearly says, “Our God will not abandon us to the task, but will stand with us, now, “making all things new—taking away tears, mourning, crying and pain.”

   And the deal seems to be sealed with Jesus giving us a “new commandment—love one another.”  And not to put too fine a point on it, our brother Jesus tells us in no uncertain terms— “this is how people will know that you are my disciples—by how you love one another [!]”

   So friends, how do we each do that?!  As you are thinking about it, I will share a couple of things that came across “the wires” this week that we should be aware of.  As we spoke of last week, the issue of abortion is still front and center and no doubt will be until the Supreme Court gives their final ruling next month—one that seems all but done, already.  And as we said last week, this issue is not, “black and white,” but one that falls into a “gray area” as it affects individual lives, differently. Perhaps best said, “It’s messy.”

   This past week, an issue that came to the forefront is in this same category as it involves a woman—the case of a 50-year-old accused of killing her newborn son in 2003.  She also has been accused of killing a newborn daughter four years earlier and this apparently was discovered through the wonders of DNA testing. 

   Now on face value, this looks very bad and something that shouldn’t happen, but we need to look deeper when we as Christians make a determination about what should be done—about what the most loving thing is to do.

   While this woman’s actions are appalling, so apparently was her life when she was being asked to bring a new one into the world.  I personally found it incredibly sad to see the diligence that area police officers (men) put into finding the mother, and “bringing her to justice,” in their words.  And at the same time, I found it incredibly sad that these same officers could not recognize the injustice that this woman faced in her personal life that brought her to such an end.  One has to wonder, were there no fathers of these children? Additionally, why is there so much passion around laying blame on women, for actions that both men and women and our society cause in general.  

   Another story in the news this week was that of the horrendous crimes done to our native sisters and brothers in taking their children from them in the past, attempting to rob them of their own culture and remake them into people resembling their conquerors.  I won’t say more now, except to name this grievous sin. 

   Our brother Jesus tells us that people will know that we are his followers by the way we love.  So how is it that we can claim to be Christians when we pit one life against another? How is it that men in Church, in State, and in the greatest court in the land, including one woman, can claim to be Christians as they contemplate taking away the rights of women in general over their own bodies, with little or no concern for the women carrying the new lives-to-be? Additionally, why is it that Church and State, and Supreme Court don’t put into place rules/laws regarding responsible behavior for men where new life is concerned? 

   I have to believe, in the Churches and in the State, in which we all live, men would come out much better than do women who carry, give birth to, and many times sustain life into adulthood, often to the detriment of their own lives because our country, supported by many Church groups treat women and their rights so unjustly.

   The Minnesota woman who took the lives of her newborns was apparently in no position, emotionally, or physically—on drugs and running from the police, to care for new life.  So, my friends, when we attempt in our own lives to be our best selves—in life that many times is quite “messy” let us all pray that we can try to see the whole picture.  In that regard, I believe there was purpose in Jesus’ request that we love others as we would hope to be loved! 

   In conclusion, so as not to leave us in the depths of sadness and despair, let us remember that keeping a balance in our lives between speaking truth when needed, and loving as close as possible as Jesus did, will bring us far more happiness and hope than if we choose the easier, “black and white” path that merely leads to judgment, not to resolution of real, life problems.  Amen? Amen!