Sixth Sunday of Easter - Fr. Pete Iorio
May 8, 2021 - 5:00 PM
May 9, 2021 - 8:30 PM
This is no ordinary lip balm. While a friend gave me this gift of lip balm, it is not just a salve for dry lips, but its story contains the entire message of our Scriptures today. The label reads LOVE HEALS Thistle Farms.
On Mother’s Day, I tell you a story of a mom named Becca Stevens who is an Episcopal priest in Nashville. She started Thistle Farms which is a nonprofit dedicated to helping women survivors recover and heal from prostitution, trafficking, and addiction. They do this by providing a safe place to live, a meaningful job, and a lifelong sisterhood of support. Relationships are so important for healing. When people lack love and/or endure traumatic childhood experiences, it can give way to homelessness, addiction, further abuse, and incarceration, often compounded by poverty.
Thistle Farms believe that love is more powerful than all the forces that drive women to the street, and a strong community will help them not only heal, but thrive. Becca put the commandment of Jesus into practice.
LOVE ONE ANOTHER. How can you mandate love especially when most think about love as if it is a feeling? If we wait for a feeling of love before doing acts of love, we may never learn to love as Jesus wants us to love. To love is to think, speak, and act according to the spiritual knowledge that we are infinitely loved by God and called to make that love visible in this world.
Most people know what is called the Golden Rule and try to live by it.
Treat others as you want to be treated. Or Love your neighbor as yourself. Jesus raises the bar. Instead of using yourself as the measure of doing good to someone, the standard you are to use is Jesus Himself. Love one another as I love you. No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. And of course, Jesus practiced what he preached by dying on the Cross out of love for All Humanity.
The second reading from the letter of John says, God is love. God lives the fullness of love as Trinity, and intimate giving and receiving of love of the three persons. This love overflows onto all created beings. To those who accept this love, God gives the power to become his children, with his own DNA, capable of loving. His love is given freely, and it frees us from all fear and timidity.
At the very core of our being, every human is made in the image and likeness of God who is love. This is the part of us that is divine and is able to receive and to give love. When we tap into our divine love place, we can love concretely like Jesus commands us to do. We can take risks and not be afraid of failure, of being made fun of, or of not being liked.
Some people think that if they merely keep the 10 Commandments and avoid sin, they have got it made. I don’t think so. Some folks have not broken commandments, and they also have not broken open themselves to love a neighbor. They are very arrogant and judgmental of others who are not like them.
The kind of love Jesus commands is universal love because every person is a candidate for receiving our acts of love. It is loving without expecting anything in return. It is a love that forgives because we are not perfect. It is sacrificial love to the extreme.
One of my favorite quotes is from St. John of the Cross: Where there is no love, put love and then you will draw out love. Becca Stevens did that on the streets of Nashville. I invite you to go to the Thistle Farms website and check out the amazing stories of how love transforms and brings people back to life. You know what else putting love into practice brings? Joy. These women are so filled with joy and gratitude, that it visibly comes out of them. What Jesus promised is true when we remain living in love: “I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete.”