Homily by Deacon Jay Ziolkowski
There is a story that has come down to us through the years. It’s about a political dignitary who attended the coronation of King Edward VII in England on August 9, 1902.The dignitary had witnessed the historic moment when the crown was placed on King Edward’s head. When the dignitary returned home, someone asked him if there was one moment that stood out above all the others.
Yes, he said, there was such a moment. It was bitter cold outside. And as he passed a vacant building he saw two street children huddled together in a doorway. One was a boy who had taken off his coat and put it around his little sisters shoulders. And he had taken his wool cap off and put it around her feet. It was a image he would never forget as long as he lived.
That story dramatizes the kind of love that is described so beautifully in today’s readings, especially the kind of love Jesus describes in today’s gospel from St. John when he says “Love one another as I love you.” And later, when he says, “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.”
Love boils down to these 3 questions:1) self-giving,2) forgiving and 3)thanksgiving.
We see how love is a question of self-giving in the story of the boy and his little sister huddled in the doorway. Now let’s look at forgiving. Forgiveness has to be part of every love relationship precisely because we are human. Fathers must be ready to forgive sons. Sons must be ready to forgive fathers. Mothers must be ready to forgive daughters and daughters must be ready to forgive mothers. And they must be ready to do this not 7 times but as Jesus has said, “seventy times seven times.
We forget that Jesus himself said: “If you forgive another their transgressions you heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions. And so besides self-giving love also involves forgiving.
this leads us to the third kind of giving that love involves: thanksgiving. In the John Wayne movie “The Searchers”, when they were about to be attacked by Indians, John Wayne said; “Padre we could use a prayer”. To which the padre said: “Lord for that we are about to receive, we give thanks.”
And so love involves 3 kinds of giving: self-giving, as the story of the children shows, forgiving: because we all make mistakes and thanksgiving as the story of John Wayne shows.