Saturday, May 9, 2015

Reflections on the Readings
By Dennis S. Hankins

6th Sunday in Easter -Year B
May 10, 2015

Let Us Love One Another

Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. (1 John 4:7)

Beloved, let us love one another! 

It is John who speaks most intimately more than 25 times in his epistles. In the Gospel bearing his name he refers to himself five times as the “disciple whom Jesus loved.” This is from a man who learned a thing or two about love after he had led the chorus to call fire down out of heaven on the inhospitable Samaritans. (Luke 9:54) He learned as we must that the love that is from above is a consuming fire of a different sort; a fire that blazes a trail of forgiveness and reconciliation.

I think that the power of this kind of love is immeasurable. Like faith the size of a grain of mustard seed can move mountains, love this big moves the sun and other stars as Dante suggests. Too often it is untapped and untried. It is my hope that we will leave here today to let a little more love in our living. 

I have that hope because the Easter season continues and because Jesus lives, God’s love remains. God’s love is alive. It can fill us with the sweet aroma of the risen Jesus whose love never fails to lift, to inspire, to make better, to mend, to heal, to restore — to feed, to clothe, to give a drink of water, to say, “I forgive you.”

Some may think God is too extravagant, too indiscriminate, maybe even wasteful in the way he loves the world. Jesus forgave the penitent thief and welcomed him into Paradise in the last hours, perhaps, minutes of his life. Unfair? Wasteful? Perhaps we should ask Dismas. Or let's ask Angela. 

Chesterton registered the indictment that the Christian ideal has not been tried and found wanting; it has been found difficult and left untried. Although I think I understand what the good apostle of common sense meant I don’t entirely agree. For example, Calvary Hospital is located in the Bronx, NY.  It is here where Dr. Michael Brescia has for many years assisted those in their last days and hours of terminal illness where every patient is approached, loved and cared for as if Jesus was the patient. The staff genuflects upon entering the patient's room, because the folks at Calvary Hospital believe the words of Jesus, "I was sick and you visited me.” One such patient was Angela.  She was brought to Calvary Hospital because the other hospital said they couldn't take care of her. Angela could not speak had no immediate family with her nor anyone of authority who could speak for her.  Dr. Brescia described her as having matted hair, rotten teeth and effusing from every orifice of her body. He volunteered to be her Physician.  

Protruding from the side of  Angela’s neck was a large tumor and she was consumed by AIDS and lung cancer.  

After Angela was admitted and bathed and made comfortable in her room, Dr. Michael Brescia made his first visit. Taking her by the hand he tenderly spoke to her from a heart filled with the love of Christ and said to her, " I hope you had a daddy who loved you. I hope you have had people in your life who valued you and cherished you."  With these and similar words he poured the healing love of Jesus into this emaciated, tormented woman.  

About 8 O'clock one Sunday night, Dr. Brescia made his last visit to Angela.  When he walked into her room he realized she was dying. As he had done in the past, he put down the bed rails and took Angela by the hand. Again he spoke with the love of a man who believed he was holding the very hand of Jesus. About 90 minutes passed and Angela, who had never spoken, said, "Dr. Michael."  Startled, Dr. Brescia heard Angela again say, "Dr. Michael." Standing closer to her so he could cradle her head in his hands she said, "In a few hours I'm going to see God and I'm going to mention your name."

Doctor Michael Brescia stated that every one who dies at Calvary Hospital dies in an ocean of love because Calvary Hospital is a hospital love has built.

I understand we spend about a billion dollars a day to keep terror in check.  One billion dollars could help with the costs associated with the kind of care Calvary Hospital provides for the terminally ill and their families for the next 50 years. 

I also think that a mother's love is also a remarkable example of the love of Christ. I think of the love of Mother Teresa and the sisters of Mercy in Calcutta. Their effort to bring faith and hope and love to the lowest of the low in the streets of Calcutta has brought Christ and his exorbitant love with a mother’s affection. This beautiful saint, Mother Theresa left us this advice: "Not all of us can do great things. But we can do small things with great love." You’ve heard it said that dynamite comes in some packages. It that is true, imagine what love the size of a fire cracker may accomplish.

There is a church tradition, which says, that when John was evidently an old man in Ephesus, he had to be carried to the church in the arms of his disciples. At these meetings, he was accustomed to say no more than, "Little children, love one another!” After awhile his disciples grew tired at always hearing the same words and ask, "Master, why do you always say this?" 

"It is the Lord's command," was his reply. "And if this alone be done, it is enough!"

Beloved, let us love one another! Amen.

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