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Fourth Sunday of Easter, April 28-29, 2012

posted Apr 29, 2012, 11:06 AM by fathermark@stmaryshuntingburg.org

            "Love is a many splendored thing ... " recorded in 1955 as the theme for the movie of the same name.

"Love me tender, love me true, never let me go ..." Elvis Presley ("The King"), 1956

"Love look at the two of us, strangers in many ways ..." The Carpenters, 1970.

Don't worry. I'm going to stop there.

But all of us ... we could all go on naming and humming and singing one schmaltzy love song after another.

The English language is full of them ... as, I assume, is every language known to the human race.

And when we had sung them all, we 'd be left with the sense that this "love" is all about the warm and fuzzy and sentimental feelings that these songs are meant to evoke ...


            But, really, when all of the singing is done ... and all of the poetry has been read ... and all the fluttery hearts stilled ... it is today's Gospel that tells us the true meaning of love.

"I am the Good Shepherd," says Jesus.

"I know mine, and mine know me ... and I lay down my life for the sheep."

A hired man will run at the first sign of danger ...

But the good shepherd will lay down his life for the sheep.


            And this is the real meaning of love ... the willingness to lay down one's life for another.

This is the  true meaning of love ... and so, it is the Cross of Jesus that is the love's truest symbol.

The Cross where Jesus laid down his life for sinners is the true symbol of love – not pretty little hearts ... or cute, little kissing turtledoves ...  or a fat kid with little wings and a bow and arrow.

The Cross is love's symbol ... and the Cross is love's measure.


            Now, of course, you parents all know that to really love your kids involves lots of sacrifices: time,  money, energy ... a lot of "laying down your life" in many seemingly ordinary ways.

But if the Cross is the measure of love ... and if love's truest meaning is to lay down your life for another ... surely, even the best of parents could always ask themselves:

Am I really giving myself to and for my children as generously as I could?

Do I really love them as I ought?

Do I really lay down my life for them?

Do they get, just for example—do they get: ... quality time? ... real attention?  ... patient listening ... even at a cost to myself?


            If the Cross is the measure of love ...

If laying down one's life for another is love's truest meaning ...

Then spouses would know the measure of their real love for one another by the sacrifices that they were willing to make for one another ... again: things as ordinary as quality time ... real attention ... patient listening ...

... giving ... as well as taking ...

... what the other one wants ... and not just what I want ...

... what the other one needs ... over and above what I might want ...


            If the Cross is the measure of love ...

If laying down one's life for another is love's truest meaning ...

Then we would know if we really love God ... if we are willing to give him things, again  as ordinary as quality time ... real attention ... patient listening.

Is the practical extent of our love for God ... the 46 minutes we manage to give him on most Saturday nights (42 minutes if we're one of those who leave after communion ...) ... or do we really give ourselves to him ... "lay down our lives" for him in other ways ?


            You and I are gathered here at this Mass to celebrate God's love for us in Jesus Christ.

For, as St. John tells us,  God so loved the world that he gave his only Begotten Son.

Jesus loved the world ... and each one of us so much ... that he laid down his life for us.

Today, as we celebrate that divine love ... as we "commune " with that love ... as we eat and drink of that love in the Body of Christ ... let's commit ourselves to learn to love according to the measure of the Cross.