Sixth Sunday of Easter - Homily
Deacon Rick Fisher
Mention the Wilson Bridge and you bring instant terror to most drivers, myself included. Horror stories of traffic tie-ups, breakdowns, large trucks, and a bridge that shakes while driving across it. Yes, it is new but still has some shaking. For some, just the thought of driving over any bridge brings moisture to their palms!
A bridge, though, is a structure that connects things, normally one side of a river to another, or crosses places where roads would not be able to go otherwise. It can be a simple foot bridge for people to cross over traffic, a stream, or the like. A bridge is for people to get from one place to the other.
The Scriptures are about building bridges. God builds a bridge from Himself to the world and to all of us. Not a physical bridge of steel and cement, but a way of living in God. With this bridge, we are able to get out of ourselves and move toward God. We are able to live a new kind of life because we have been chosen by God to walk across His bridge.
God builds the bridge ... He chose us ... he loves us. In the second reading we hear that "love consists of this ... not that we have loved God ... but that he has loved us." In the Gospel reading, Jesus puts it this way; "It was not you who chose me, it was I who chose you."
God makes the first move. He takes the initiative when it comes to building the bridge. God loves us first. Then He tells us that He wants to walk across the bridge to us.
In our first reading, we see a demonstration of how God walks across the bridge to people when Peter tells the people, "I begin to see how true it is that God shows no partiality." Peter was staying with Cornelius and his family. They should never have received the Holy Spirit ... as they were Gentiles, not Jews. It was a shock then, and even today, to know that God offers his bridge to everyone!
It is important that a bridge be used. So God uses his bridge, walking across it to us, and asks us to respond by walking back across the bridge to Him. Jesus indicates this when he said, "Love one another as I have loved you."
A major problem we face today is that we think ourselves unworthy to walk across the bridge. We are taught not to be lovable, not to let another love us, not to trust another person. As a result, we do not trust God, and no one will ever go across the bridge that he or she does not trust.
A person is "no one" unless he or she drives the latest, sexiest car, or so the ads would have you believe. In fact, one seems to have a better relationship with their car than with another person.
Scope or Lavoris - take your pick - you'll be lovable. People with bad breath are not lovable.
In today's society, probably the greatest put down, the greatest number we can do on ourselves, is to tell ourselves that we are perfect. We do it unconsciously. There is no room for error. If we make a mistake, we are unlovable. Sometimes we won't even try for a relationship for fear of failure.
If our computers lose information, we panic; an error has been made. Doctors are scared to practice medicine because if they make a mistake, they are sued. Lawyers fear practicing law because if they make a misjudgment, their careers are destroyed.
This idea of perfection stems from the fact that we have all we need. There is little or no want. So we presume that we have reached perfection in work, computers, etc. The last thing we want is anything that is less than perfect - including relationships.
When we suddenly discover, as we certainly will, that we are not perfect, we also conclude that we are not lovable.
Love, however, finds its origin and its real meaning in God. God loves us just as we are. He accepts us where we are and invites us to walk across the bridge He has built. He shows no partiality. God loves everyone equally. Why? Because God is love!
Jesus puts it this way: "I no longer speak to you as slaves. Instead, I call you friends since I have made known to you all that I heard from my Father." God loves us and builds the bridge to us. We cannot earn it or buy it or deserve it. All we can do is respond to God's love for us.
This is a type of love with substance in it. Jesus says, "Live on in my love. You will live in my love if you keep my commandments. The command I give you is this: that you love one another."
Real love is a decision to love. God decided to love us and build a bridge to us. In turn, Jesus, Son of God, loved us. It is a love that is so strong and can only be stated in one way. "There is no greater love that this: to lay down one's life for one's friends."
God is the master bridge builder. In the past He built many bridges for His people. All of them were based on real love. Then, God sent Jesus, His proof and final bridge-link. God calls out to us and invites us to walk across the bridge to Him. God speaks to us, saying, "I love you with an everlasting love just the way you are. I love all with no partiality. “See Jesus, my Son, He is the bridge from me to you."
We need to put aside all that we have ever heard that is not true about love and walk across the final bridge that God has built.
When we make that decision to respond to God's love, to live in His love, then, as Jesus told us, then our "joy will be complete."