Homily for the Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year B
We reassure our hearts before him in whatever our hearts condemn, for God is greater than our hearts, and knows everything. Beloved, if our hearts do not condemn us, we have confidence in God and receive from him whatever we ask (1 John 3:19-22a).
There are no words in all of Sacred Scripture that inspire more confidence and consolation than the words we find in the epistles of the Beloved Disciple, St. John. In these short letters he combines the burning austerity of the love of God with its healing warmth and power. Consider the words cited here. There is truly something for everyone, and each is given a broad and generous motive for consolation.
Do I find something in myself worthy of reproach? Then I fly to the understanding heart of Jesus, which is greater than my heart and understands me, weak sinner that I am, more than I understand myself.
Do I find nothing to reproach (at least at the moment!)? Then I can rejoice, since my closeness to the Lord assures me of the power of my own prayers since my desires have been in line with his.
How did St. John come by such confidence, which includes not just the saint but also the sinner? Why is he, of all the apostles, called “the divine”—meaning “the theologian”?
I think I know the answer to this question, and it is an answer that applies to us all. Simply, he was drawn to the Lord, and he allowed himself to be drawn. St. Thomas says that being passively moved by God is a greater motive for love than our own efforts. Just as in our own experience, it is more delightful and secure to be loved by someone who is free to love us than it is to strive to make ourselves loved by that person.
This does not mean, of course, that no effort is required. Love inspires love in return. But the consciousness of being loved first by one we love knits our hearts to that person in the most powerful way: like a child resting on its mother’s breast, as the royal Psalmist says.
Concretely, John learned the mysteries of Christ’s deep love for each of us by his even physical closeness to him, as we see at the Last Supper where he reclined on the Savior’s breast. This is reproduced for us as Christ reverses the scene and comes to rest on our breast in Holy Communion.
Then he learned the truth of the confidence we must bear for the loving Savior by his “other” and great gift to him, namely, of his Blessed Mother, whom he confided to John and John to her as he hung on the wood of the Cross. Each day the two of them with the other disciples brought the Lord near them by their union in the Blessed Sacrament. This is what we are told in the Acts of the Apostles.
Yes, the God of Mary and her son John is greater than our hearts, so as sinners we can trust him utterly and hope to receive his pardon and mercy, and as our hearts are unburdened of our faults, we can hope to receive the blessings for which we pray.
So as the month of May begins, let us join Our Lady and St. John and the altar, and learn the lesson of confident love!