Sermon Reflection for Sunday, May 19, 2019 | Respectfully submitted by Mal Underwood.
On this Fifth Sunday of Easter, we were blessed to have Fr. Louis Tonsmiere celebrate the Eucharist and give us a powerful sermon on Christian identity and responsibility found in the Gospel lesson for the day. The reading was from John 13 and tells of Jesus’ last supper with his closest friends and confidantes on his final night on earth as God incarnate. Fr. Louis’ message was one characterized by the power of love and how Jesus exhorts us to live into the true meaning of the two greatest commandments to love God with all our heart, soul, mind and strength and to love others as ourselves. It is how we will be known in the world as followers of our Savior Christ.
Jesus said, “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this – that a person lay down his life for his friends.” As Fr. Louis told us, these teachings of Jesus are sometimes known as his “hard sayings”, and described them as “heavy” demands, that is, those responsibilities as Christians that are weighty, rigorous, and difficult for us to accomplish. He went on to say that Jesus reminds us there is a cost to love – to be willing to give of yourself and your resources without conditions or limits, even to the point of sacrificing your life as He did for us. I am reminded of quotes from Presiding Bishop Michael Curry’s sermon at the royal wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. He said “ultimately the source of love is God himself, the source of all our lives. As it is written in an old medieval poem, ‘where true love is found, God himself is there’. There is power in love to help and heal when nothing else can. There is power in love to show us the way to live.”
Fr. Louis continued by naming several examples of Christ’s “hard sayings” on the true meaning of living into the love of God:
· Telling the parable of the Good Samaritan who gave of his time and money to help a Jewish man who had been beaten and robbed on a roadway and left to die after a number of his own people passed by and ignored him. The Samaritans were generally ostracized by the religious elite of the time but the Good Samaritan showed the love of God without hesitation.
· “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be the children of your Father in heaven.”
· “By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
· After washing the disciples’ feet at the last supper Jesus told them, “for I have given you an example, that you should do, as I have done for you.”
Fr. Louis’ message reminds us of the path we are to follow in life – that in receiving, acknowledging, and sharing the love of God in spite of the self-serving pressures and attacks of the secular world, and in spite of the sacrifice and rigor of loving others as we love ourselves, we are called to love like Jesus. In this way, the world will know that we are truly His children.