6th Sunday of Easter

Jesus said to His disciples (and He says to us): “If you love Me, you will keep My commandments . . . and whoever loves Me will be loved by My Father and I will love Him and reveal Myself to him.”  We were made to know God: not to just know things about God but to know Him.  God created us to love Him and we cannot love someone that we do not know.  How do we come to know God?  In order for us to Know God, He has to reveal Himself to us.  God is pure, infinite Spirit.  He is so far above us that we cannot know anything about Him, other than the fact that He exists, unless He reveals Himself to us.  We come to know God through His own Self-revelation and of course the fullness of that Self-revelation has come to us through Jesus Christ.  In Christ God has become man so that we can come to know God: and not just know about God but really to be relationship with God.

Jesus has revealed God to us: He has shown us the Way to the Father.  Jesus taught us that God is love: He showed us, on the Cross, how much God loves us and He calls us to imitate that love.  We are called to love God in a radical way: with all of our minds, with all of our hearts, with all of our strength.  God is asking you to give Him everything.  And He is not asking you to do something for Him, which He has not already done for you.  God already gave Himself to you completely: Jesus gives us everything that He IS and all that He has each and every time we receive Him truly present in the Eucharist.

He has given us every good thing and even given Himself to us completely and He asks us to return that gift of love by a total gift of ourselves to Him.  God desires us to give ourselves to Him without holding anything back.  It is impossible to love God like that without His assistance.  Without the Holy Spirit moving in our hearts, in our souls, we cannot love God the way that He calls us to love Him.  Our nature is too weak; our fallen nature is too inclined towards self-love and pride.  The Holy Spirit, Who is the love of the Father and the Son, Who is the very Spirit of love must help us if we are to love as we are called to love.  Through our Baptism, we have the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.  The Holy Spirit fills our hearts with His gifts and He bears fruit in our souls by His very presence.  That being said, we need to do all that we can to cooperate with the Holy Spirit.  Our hearts have to be open and willing; we have to allow God to work on us.  God will reveal Himself to us, but we have to open our hearts to receive that revelation.  We need to seek God: our hearts are restless until they rest in Him.  We need to ask for and accept the graces that the Holy Spirit wants to give to us.

How do we open ourselves to the gifts God wants to give us?  In today’s Gospel, Jesus says that if we love Him, we will keep His commandments.  We need to root sin out of our hearts in order to have hearts that are capable of receiving God’s Self-revelation.  God gave us a free will and He will not take it away from us.  We have to choose to follow God and that is a choice that we have to make again and again, each and every day.  God will not force His friendship upon us: we have to want it: we have to seek it.  If we are attached to sin, God will respect our free will and leave us to our sins.

Some of us here this afternoon may be thinking to ourselves: “then I will not be able to have that intimate friendship with God, because I have had this or that sinful habit for a long time; I can’t break free from it.”  The only sin that is inevitable is the sin that I am not willing to fight against.  Breaking free from sinful habits is hard.  It takes a lot of effort, we need the help of God’s grace; breaking habits takes time and it is not easy.  But God calls us to live in the freedom of His sons and daughters.  He wants us to reject sin and follow Him with all of our hearts.  We have to beg God for the grace to break free from a sinful habit.  We have to use the means that He has given to us: frequent the Sacrament of Confession, receive the Eucharist often, spend time in prayer and offer small sacrifices to obtain freedom from sin.  We can fight against a sinful habit by trying to cultivate the opposite virtue.  Mostly importantly, we should never give up trying to rid ourselves of sin.  Let us not settle for mediocrity.

God wants us to choose Him above everything else.  Sometimes the temptation can be to give God our prayer time, and maybe even offer our work up to Him, but then to keep the rest for ourselves.  We need to offer ourselves to God completely.  Give back to Him the part of your heart that you struggle with.  Give Him your fears, anxieties, and hardships.  Give God your leisure, your joy and your relaxation.  All time belongs to Christ.  Jesus wants to reign in every part of your heart, in every part of your life.  That doesn’t mean that we can’t have leisure time, or enjoy time with our friends and family: it means that we offer even that part of our lives to Him.  God made us to be in relationships with other people.  He created us to love and to work and to rest.  We can and should offer to God our recreation as well as our work; our friendships as well as our struggles.  God should be in the center of everything.  That doesn’t mean that we only talk about God when we visit family or friends.  It means that when I go to visit my family and friends I offer that time to God.  That might mean that my recreation and my conversations need to look differently than they do now, but we should keep in mind the fact that sin never makes us truly happy.

We also need to keep in mind the fact that God is always with us.  We come to Church to encounter our God in a way that is closer and more intimate than anywhere else in the world.  We are never so close to God as we are right after we have just received Him in Holy Communion.  But God is always with us.  He knows our thoughts.  He is our constant companion.  We tend to forget that God is always with us, but it would help us greatly if we learned to be more aware of His presence with us throughout our day.  That awareness of His presence will grow if we stop pushing Him away by our sins.  If we truly seek God, He will make Himself known to us.  The more that we come to know Him the more we will come to love Him and thirst for Him Who thirsts for us.