Sermons

May 9: Love, the Sure Sign of God’s Presence (Easter 6B)

“Peter said: ‘In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. Rather, in every nation whoever stands in awe of God and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” Acts 10:34-35.

In the Acts of the Apostles, we read of how the leaders of Christ’s small band of disciples wrestled with how to proclaim the Lord’s message boldly.

If ever there was a bold statement, Peter’s inclusion of Gentiles into the community was a courageous move. He, along with many others, had to overcome religious bias. His single insight, saying: “God shows no partiality,” was an achievement in religious thought.

You may wish to consider this idea when cheering on the home team as if God were solely on our side or listening to public figures who use the bible to support a particular candidate, and even on special occasions when with full-voice we sing “God Bless America.”

Peter makes the case that God is on the side of the righteous and those of sincere heart.

Here’s the story as related to the Acts of the Apostles. In a dream, an angel tells the Roman centurion to seek out Simon Peter and ask about God’s plan for his life. While Peter, a practicing Jew, might listen and engage with the man, Peter too had to overcome his beliefs about dietary restrictions or the possible pollution from false idols or issues of unlawful marriage. Such was the mentality of pious Jews at the time.

This incident demonstrates two conversions. Namely, Cornelius’s coming to Christ and Peter’s openness to the large world-view, and most especially encouraging faith in Jesus among non-Jews or gentiles.

Again, Peter says to the man: “In truth, I see that God shows no partiality. In every nation whoever stands in awe of God and acts uprightly is acceptable to him.” His bold statement clarified the point that no one is unworthy of God’s love. Somehow God’s grace can work even in the so-called non-believer.

When reading the Acts of the Apostles, you discover genuine tensions among the disciples of Christ. While Peter brings resolution to these issues, it comes after much soul-searching and community conflict.

You will soon be at a college or university where you will see how classmates and friends define themselves, sometimes politically and even sexually, among LGBTQ sectors of the society. All too often, there can be contentious debates about actions, policies, or events, even among friends.

Before we react or reach ill-formed conclusions, think of Saint Peter’s response to Cornelius, one that looks into the heart of each person and uplifts and affirms our shared humanity.

The tensions in our lives call us to the readings from John in which the gospel resounds with the command to love one another and in his letter in which you find that “God is love.”

This command extends to the idea that genuine acts of love on our part are the surest sign of God’s presence.

Love comes in various forms — in actions of kindness, caregiving, patience, bravery, and courage – all with a sense of purpose and determination.

A Final Thought

Love is the surest sign of God’s presence. Our mothers represent that first glimmer of love in our eyes, with our infant cries and appeals for comfort, food, and warmth. Not a day goes by without some reference in my life about my mother, and I’m sure this is true for you as well.

Today is Mother’s Day. Recall the words of six-year-old Catherine Violet Hubbard, “Tell all your friends, I am kind.” Love comes in many forms, so I hope that your words of kindness to your mother this day will encourage your life-giving love.

The American Mother’s Day differs slightly from the celebration of Mothering Day in the United Kingdom, coming on the Fourth Sunday of Lent. Here, the festival honors mothers and the “mothering church” in which a person is baptized. It’s a sign that both our physical and spiritual births bring us to life and eternal life — something to recall when considering the deeply spiritual realm of God’s creative actions in our lives, especially among those we love.

Rosary Chapel, Santa Catalina School, Monterey, CA.

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