Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Published: May 14, 2022

Bishop Anthony B. Taylor preached the following homily during a memorial Mass for Antonyammal Maria Susai, mother of Father Barnabas Maria Susai, IMS, on Saturday, May 14, 2022 at St. Bernard of Clairvaux Church in Bella Vista.

Bishop Taylor

In today's Gospel Jesus speaks about glory and love, and what he says is the opposite of what people think. Most people think that glory means the esteem of others and people admire those who pursue the four pernicious p's: power, possessions, pleasure and prestige.

But in our Gospel, we see that true glory is enjoyed only by those who embrace the cross, living lives of sacrificial love. And of course, that theme of sacrificial love was very much on our minds as we celebrated Mother’s Day last Sunday, and as we pray for the repose of the soul of Antonyammal Maria Susai, the mother of our beloved Father Barnabas.

Our passage begins with Judas going out to cut a deal with Jesus' adversaries, so it is clear that all of Jesus' words about glory are spoken in the shadow of the cross. "When Judas had left them, Jesus said, 'Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified with him. If God is glorified in him, God will also glorify him in himself ...'"  So Jesus' glory is the fruit of his sacrifice.

Jesus knew in advance who would betray him, who would deny him and who would abandon him. He accepted them just as they were, defects and all, and when the time came, he forgave them.

But then he makes two further — unexpected— connections between glory and sacrifice: 

1.)  Jesus' cross also glorifies his Father. Why? Because by embracing this cross as his Father's will for him, he is obeying his Father and thus honors his Father. We experience this in our own families. When mothers care for their children as Father Barnabas’ mother did so faithfully, they honor them, and they honor God. When children obey their parents, they honor them. When they disobey them, they dishonor them. When we disobey God, we dishonor him.

2.) Jesus' cross glorifies us. By sacrificing his Son, God whom we should honor honors us. That is the most astounding thing about glory: Even for God it is the fruit of sacrifice. In the Incarnation God humbles himself, taking on our broken human condition in order to set us free from the power of sin and death. But he doesn't just want our appreciation; he wants our love.

God's glory is most clearly revealed in Jesus writhing in agony on the cross, having sacrificed everything out of love for us: powerless; no longer possessing even his clothing; mocked and thoroughly degraded. Love that we in no way deserve, love that offers us a share in his glory.

And then in the second half of our Gospel Jesus tells us that he is looking for the same love from us in return, which is where our greatest glory lies too."I give you a new commandment: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another." Jesus loved us without any thought of personal benefit for himself and since that's how he has loved us, that's how he commands us to love others. Notice, this is not merely a recommendation. He says, "I give you a new commandment!" 

In this regard I would like to point out something we often overlook regarding Jesus and regarding our own relationships, namely, that he loves us with understanding. Jesus knew in advance who would betray him, who would deny him and who would abandon him. He accepted them just as they were, defects and all, and when the time came, he forgave them.

And he knows all the same things about us. If Jesus wanted to recruit 12 men with the finest human qualities, he had a lot of better options than the coarse men he chose for his inner circle. That's how we are to love too. And that’s how a mother loves every one of her kids, fully aware of strengths and weaknesses and personality of each child, yet without making distinction of persons, ideally with each one of the kids always believing that he or she was her favorite because you’re not limited to one favorite and with a love that always expands to meet the need.

And I think we can all agree that there is no love more precious than a mother’s love. That’s certainly how I feel and I know that’s how Father Barnabas feels about his mom. So happy Mother’s Day a week late to all mothers present here today and prayers for Father Barnabas’ mother as we commend her to the Lord.

"This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another."