As An Act Of Love – Fr. Tom Tank

Fr. Tom Tank’s Homily May 9, 2021

“Well it’s obvious in our scripture readings this even is that basic themes of love, one of the most used and abused words in the English language. Love is what really sustains us within life and so often love is considered in terms of selfishness, but obviously love is absolutely self-giving. We are reminded in that second reading today from St. John that God has first loved us and that is one of the most important things for us to realize and to accept not just with our head, but with our heart to accept the fact that we are truly loved by God that God takes the initiative. We don’t have to earn God’s love, we only have to accept it that God’s love is there and manifested in such a dramatic way in Christ Jesus and that our call is first of all to just recognize that each and every one of us is loved that we are loved into existence for God is our creator. We are loved into new birth through baptism and a whole newness of life and that God loves us so that he wants to share eternal life with us. How blessed we are to know that powerful love of God, but the challenge is to accept it and in the Gospel today Jesus reminds us that we are invited to remain in His love which means to accept that love into our lives and to allow that love to transform us to make us new people more loving in turn.

Jesus in the Gospel today says, ‘This is my commandment that you love one another as I have loved you.’ So often we think about the commandments of Jesus as being love God above all things, love your neighbor as yourself and certainly Jesus uttered those words, but those were not original with Jesus. Jesus in his originality had brought those two together, love of God and love of neighbor, but the really dramatic new commandment from Jesus is to love one another as I have loved you and the example of love that Jesus gives is his absolute love for each and every one of us upon the cross that Jesus died out of love and he invites us to love in that same spirit that same attitude and he goes on, ‘No greater love than this does anyone have than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.’ to do so for another and obviously throughout history not only Jesus, but many other people have made that ultimate sacrifice of laying down their life in the sense of dying and what a tremendous gift that is, but to lay down your life does not mean just to die for another. It can also mean to live for another to lay down your life day in and day out to lay down your life in loving service and in caring that is the key to holiness and sanctity.

Today we celebrate Mother’s day and in a very special way we celebrate all of those women, our mothers or other women who so generously share and care for us in so many beautiful, simple ways, but with a great depth of love truly laying down their life day in and day out and it’s not in the grandiose, but rather it’s so often in the simple. It’s doing the laundry. It’s taking care of the dishes. It’s fixing the meals. It’s cleaning the house, all of those simple mundane things, but are really a call to holiness, a means of holiness of life. I’m always reminded of St. Therese of Lisieux who said, ‘Holiness is not doing extraordinary things, but  doing ordinary things extraordinarily well, of doing ordinary things with great love.’ and that’s what I believe we celebrate with mothers and those who care for others in so many beautiful ways that they are truly doing yes, ordinary things, but to do it with extraordinary love to do it with a real sense of service of imitating Christ Jesus.

I think of my own mother and I know many of you will not be able to relate to this, but when I was growing up and she was raising six kids there was a lot of laundry to do and in those days you didn’t just throw it in the dryer, you hauled it outside and you hung it on the clothesline piece after piece after piece and my mother always, every time she put a clothespin on the hold the laundry, every clothespin was a prayer. It was taking that which was so natural, so human, so mundane, but transforming it into something that is spiritual because it’s an act of love, it’s an act of service. I encourage you as you go through those routine things of life whether it’s pulling dishes out of the dishwasher or folding up laundry or whatever it may be to do those as an act of love to maybe make that as a challenge as a moment of prayer of realizing that yes, it’s in the ordinary things done extraordinarily well that we truly grow in holiness of life and so we honor all mothers today and we pray for mothers. We pray that the lord may bless and grace you. This has been a tough year for moms. There’s no question because there has been so much tension and so many extra challenges and everything and I really applaud and do a shoutout for all mothers particularly in the midst of this year and maybe in a special way for those who are single parents. What a tremendous challenge and difficulty that has been for so many, but we really honor mothers today and we also honor our blessed mother. We honor Mary who was given to us by Jesus from the cross as he was showing that infinite love for us upon the cross what did he say? ‘Woman behold your son. Son behold your mother.’ He gave each and every one of us that spiritual mother, Mary and as any mother, what does Mary want for us? The very best, wants us to be truly fully happy, not just here, but forever in Heaven. Mary is a tremendous intercessor for us. She’s one who calls us to greater fidelity within our life and she graces and strengthens us. She is a spiritual mother who intercedes for us and she challenges us to also pray. This week we remember Fatima and the Blessed Mother appearing at Fatima and in that time she warned us and said we needed to pray more we needed to pray the Rosary we needed to do penance in order to overcome the sins of the world in order that we could live a better more peaceful life as we journey each day and so Mary is truly our spiritual mother and we honor her today along with all mothers for truly they give us such a beautiful example of loving others as Christ loves each of us.”