YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: LANGUAGE OF LOVE
BY: Fr. Gerald Musa
HOMILY: You may have come across Gary Chapman’s book titled 5 love languages: How to express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate. In this book Chapman explains 5 different ways in which people demonstrate love: Gifts; Quality time; Words of Affirmation and Encouragement; Committed service to the other and Intimacy. Chapman observes that the best way to know the love language to speak to a beloved one is to observe closely how the person expresses love to other people.
Jesus was a polyglot and spoke so many love languages. He spoke the language of love in his incarnation when he came to live in the world; he spoke the language of love to people in dire need (For example, at the Wedding at Cana, in the multiplication of food for the crowd, in raising the only child of a widow, etc.); he eloquently expressed the language of love in his ministry to the sick and sinners; furthermore, he spoke the ultimate language of love by laying down his life to redeem his people. He taught his disciples, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (John 15:13).
After resurrection Jesus appeared to his disciples several times to rebuild their faith, to strengthen their love and renew their hope. They were almost frustrated and depressed after his death and had gone back to their former trade of fishing. In order to revive their spirit, He breathed the Holy Spirit in the Apostles and commissioned them to go forth and be ministers of mercy. More still, he saw the need to entrust Peter with the mantle of leadership. Jesus needed a leader who had the strength, courage and capacity to love God wholeheartedly. Jesus saw Peter as a potential leader and so asked Peter three times: “Do you love me?” First, he asked: “Simon, son of John, do you love me more than these?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my lambs.” He asked the second time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Simon Peter answered him, “Yes, Lord, you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Tend my sheep.” Jesus said to him the third time, “Simon, son of John, do you love me?” Peter was distressed that Jesus had said to him a third time, “Do you love me?” and he said to him, “Lord, you know everything; you know that I love you.” Jesus said to him, “Feed my sheep.”
Peter was called to learn how to take care of the sheep in the same way that God does. In his role as Shepherd of Israel, God demonstrated tender loving care and he expressed it thus: “When Israel was a child, I loved him… I took them up in my arms… I led them with cords of compassion, with the bands of love, and I became to them as one who eases the yoke on their jaws, and I bent down to them and fed them” (Hosea 11:1, 3-4). Therefore, Jesus wanted to make Peter to know that pastoral care of the flock requires total commitment. More so, Jesus invited Peter to grow in his capacity to love and to be aware that love requires nothing less than giving everything for the sake of the beloved. After Pentecost Peter and the rest of the Apostles received power and grace to proclaim the Good News fearlessly. When the Sanhedrin ordered them to stop speaking and teaching in the name of Jesus, they responded courageously saying, “We must obey God rather than men” (Acts of the Apostles 5:29). When Peter became the leader of the Church, his love for Jesus intensified and that love led him to shedding his blood like that of his Master Jesus, the lamb that was slain (Revelation 5:12).
Jesus expects each of us to grow in our capacity to love. St. Augustine expressed regret for learning the language of love of God so late in his life. In his confession he wrote: “Late have I loved you, O Beauty so ancient and so new. Late have I loved you! …You shone your Self upon me to drive away my blindness. You breathed your fragrance upon me… and in astonishment I drew my breath…now I pant for you! I tasted you, and now I hunger and thirst for you. You touched me! – And I burn to live within your peace.”
We all have a common vocation to love. In his exhortation on love entitled Amoris Laetitia (The Joy of Love) Pope Francis says, “We are called to bear witness to the Gospel of God’s love” (71). For the Apostle Paul, the language of love is patience and kindness (See 1 Corinthians 13:4-7).
3rd Sunday of Easter; Acts 5:27-32.40-41; Revelation 5:11-14; John 21:1-19