Church of the
Annunciation

7580 Clinton Street
Elma, New York 14059

716.683.5254

May 09, 2021

6th Sunday of Easter B

Years ago, I remember reading about an arranged marriage of two graduate students at the University at Buffalo. It caused a stir. The grandfather of the young man who attended the ceremony explained: “In the West, you marry the girl you love. In the East, you love the girl you marry.”

In the Gospel according to St. John, on the evening he is arrested and the day before he dies on the cross, Jesus gives his last wish to his disciples: “Love one another as I have loved you.” He gives the request as a command.  How can the Lord command us to love? Doesn’t love just happen? Even our expression “falling in love” gives the impression that it is beyond our control. The command of Jesus is puzzling in a society that identifies love as a feeling, as an emotion. For many “to love” means “to like.” Real love, Christ’s kind of love, is not a feeling but an act of the will, a decision, a commitment to act for the benefit of another person no matter how we feel about individual at a given moment of time.  

The confusion of loving and liking causes many problems when we identify married love with romance – a feeling. Can romance be the foundation of a lifelong marriage? Can mutual emotional attraction between two people be a guarantee of fidelity? Feelings change, ebb and flow. When our feelings start to change, does that mean the marriage is at an end? “I don’t love him anymore!” Or can the change of feeling signal the beginning of a new, more mature, and honest relationship. I caught a segment of “Victoria” on PBS when Queen Victoria asks Prince Albert if he still loves her? They have been married for nine years with seven children and with a host of challenges as a royal couple. Prince Albert says to Victoria: “My love for you has changed.”

Love entails a commitment to seek the spiritual, emotional, mental, and physical wellbeing of another person. Jesus commands us to love others as he has loved us. We see this unfold in the relationship Jesus has with Simon Peter. In our first reading, Acts of the Apostles, Peter goes to the house of Cornelius, a Roman centurion. He would have preferred not to be there, but he has a sense of mission, of seeing his presence as a Jew in a Gentile household as part of God’s plan. He witnesses the outpouring of the Holy Spirit on Jew and Gentile alike.  In the Gospel according to John, the Risen Lord appears to Simon Peter at the Sea of Tiberias (Galilee) and asks him three times: “Do you love me?” After each affirmation of love, Jesus commissions Simon Peter to feed and tend my sheep. The office of Good Shepherd is entrusted to Simon Peter. Jesus predicts it will take Simon Peter to where he would choose not to go – except for Christ and the spiritual wellbeing/salvation of others. This is true love. This kind of love has the power to transform our world and great power to transform us.

On Wednesday, our adult confirmation class was studying the Sacrament of Marriage. There are three adult candidates desiring to be confirmed. Two are engaged to be married. Deb Keenan, our Pastoral Associate for Ministry, and Mary Ann Mercurio, our Catechist for Sacraments, guide the discussion. Mary Ann shared her understanding of her marriage vow. In her mind and heart, she was promising to help her husband get to heaven. Some in our society would smile or even laugh at her words. But I find them to be especially beautiful and profound. “Love is of God … God is love” (2nd reading, first Letter of John). Love is eternal.   

 

 

 

More Homilies


May 02, 2021

5th Sunday of Easter

I am grateful for my part in the preparation and formation of our teens (Y-Disciple) and adults for the Sacrament of Confirmation. When teens express doubt about receiving the Sacrament of Confirmation, their reservation may be the personal commitment to the Church as an institution -- parts of which they do not know, or understand, or even reject. When teens and adults un...

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April 18, 2021

3rd Sunday of Easter

“They are startled and terrified and think that they are seeing a ghost.” “Startled and terrified” aptly describes the followers of Jesus after his crucifixion and death. We too readily dismiss their “trauma” and highlight their coming to renewed faith in the Resurrection. Mary and the women are “seized with trembling and bewilderment” (Mark 16:8). Disciple...

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April 11, 2021

2nd Sunday of Easter

First Fridays of the month were special in the church of the Sacred Heart of Jesus, Bowmansville. We would gather for morning Mass and Sacred Heart devotions. What I remember best is the hot chocolate and pastries mothers served the students after Mass in our school cafeteria. Sacred Heart devotions are inspired by St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, a French mystic, who had a vis...

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March 28, 2021

Palm Sunday

Palm Sunday is the beginning of Holy Week. It is more than a day to get a palm branch. It is a day of mystery as we reflect upon Jesus’ entry into the Holy City of Jerusalem. Prophetically, Jesus sits upon a colt, a young donkey. He does not ride on a war horse. He comes not to do battle but as God’s ambassador of peace. People wave palm branches to salute Jesus. It is... READ MORE

March 21, 2021

5th Sunday of Lent B

On Sunday evening JoAnn Falletta, Director, the Buffalo Philharmonic Chorus and Orchestra and the UCLA Chamber Singers received a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Classical Composition of Richard Danielpour’s, “The Passion of Yeshua.” It is a work that has evolved over the last twenty-five years -- an intensely personal telling of the final hours o... READ MORE

March 14, 2021

4th Sunday of Lent B

John 3:16 is the Gospel in one verse. “God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” The verse is loaded with meaning about God’s love, about God’s Son, and about our belief in Him. This world that God loves is not a mythical Shangri-la where people live in justice and in peace. It i... READ MORE

March 14, 2021

4th Sunday of Lent B

John 3:16 is the Gospel in one verse. “God so loved the world that he gave His only Son, that whoever believes in Him might not perish but might have eternal life.” The verse is loaded with meaning about God’s love, about God’s Son, and about our belief in Him. This world that God loves is not a mythical Shangri-la where people live in justice and in peace. It i... READ MORE

March 07, 2021

3rd Sunday of Lent

It surprises us. Jesus makes a whip, turns over tables and expels people and animals from the holy temple. The area is both a courtyard with access to sacred space for worship and a thoroughfare for visitors to move in and out of the city of Jerusalem. Pilgrims need to exchange offensive coins with images of the Roman emperor or deities to purchase animals for sacrifice. A... READ MORE

Displaying Homilies -3 - 1 of 530

Stewardship

Stewardship is having the wisdom to understand that everything we have is a gift from God.

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