Friday, May 6, 2016

"THE FATHER HIMSELF LOVES YOU."


Homily for May 7th, 2016: John 16: 23b-28.

          “The Father himself loves you,” Jesus tells his apostles at the Last Supper, “because you have loved me and have come to believe that I come from God.” St. Augustine says, “His object in loving us was to enable us to love one another.” Love is something that must be given to us from without. And the first one to bestow his love on us was our heavenly Father and Creator. It is important to know that the love Jesus is talking about in today’s gospel reading is not primarily a matter of feelings. It is an attitude of concern. Feelings come and go, influenced by the weather, the state of our mental and physical health, our changing moods.

          None of those things matter for God. God cannot change. He is always the same. From the moment of our conception in our mother’s womb, God wanted the very best for us. God loves us, Augustine writes, “so that we may be brothers of his only Son. . . His object in loving us was to enable us to love each other. By loving us himself, our mighty head has linked us all together as members of his own body, bound to one another by the tender bond of love.” [Office of Readings, Thursday of the Fifth week of Easter]

          The love that God has for us, his creatures, enables us to approach him with confidence. “Whatever you ask the Father in my name he will give you . . . ask and you will receive, so that your joy will be complete.” The French Jesuit priest, Teilhard de Chardin, who died in New York City on Easter Sunday 1955, at the age of 73, used to call joy “the infallible sign of the presence of God.”

          How sad that so many of Jesus’ friends show little evidence of joy. To have it, you must cultivate thanksgiving. Let no day pass without thanking your heavenly Father for all the blessings he showers upon you. I’ve said it before. I’ll say it again: I couldn’t tell you how many times I say, every day: “Lord, you’re so good to me; and I’m so grateful.” And if a long life has taught me anything, it is this. Thankful people are happy people, and joyful people – no exceptions.