Love is a word that is used so frequently its force is practically lost. The word love is also used in so many different senses that it is essentially limited in its value. People say that they love their spouses, their children, their dogs, and of course, Monday night football.
Actually, love is a precious word that we ought to use precisely and with meaning, never carelessly or cheaply. We should be prepared to back up the use of this word with action. God uses this word wisely and well. He does not use it in a shallow sense, as do those who are merely infatuated with each other. Nor does He use it lightly, as we do when we say that we love a good steak. God tells us that He loves us, and He means what he says.
We know that God has a profound love for us because He has backed up His words with action. One characteristic of true love is generosity, a generosity that knows no limit. When understood properly, love and giving are synonymous. God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son. He gave us His all!
Reflecting on today’s Gospel, two words came to mind: love and action. Jesus accomplishes great things through us. He tells us, “Anything you ask in My name, I will do.” We receive great love in our hearts when we accept Jesus in our lives. Then, with that love from Christ, we can truly share love with our brothers and sisters by works of charity, caring for those who are sick, attending to the needs of those who are without, or just being there to listen to someone who needs to tell his or her story. That is when we are truly acting on our faith and know Jesus in others and in ourselves.
Today’s feast invites us to cherish the basic riches of our lives in Christ. This whole Easter season of fifty days celebrates the gifts of Christ’s power and intimate availability to all of us. Jesus is close and accessible to us. He gives us the assurance that those who have faith in Him will do the works He does, and far more. We must never forget how much we can trust Jesus to accomplish great things through us.
The apostles are examples for us of the power of Easter faith. Along with the other disciples at the time of Jesus’ death, we are full of fear and hesitant to act. This changed for the Apostles and disciples as they accepted the gifts of the Resurrection, the power of God’s Spirit present in their lives. Jesus had given the apostles, these relatively simple people with few skills, the mandate to preach and give witness to the entire world. And look at how Jesus’ message, with the will of His Father, has spread love and action throughout the world.
Someone very special to me truly knew the love of Jesus and has shared it with others. Deacon Don died in December of 1998. His footprints of being Christ to others were scattered throughout the city of Spokane. He visited the elderly in nursing homes, fed those who were hungry and who were living on the streets. He and his family shared their home with kids from the streets and helped them to get their lives together. Don truly had Jesus in his heart and put his faith into action.
We too must have faith in Jesus and have the will to do God’s work here on earth, just as my friend Deacon Don did. Our prayer is fitting from our psalm for today’s readings: “The Lord hears the cry of the poor” (Ps 34). May we also hear that cry. Amen.