Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter
First of all, I want to take this opportunity to personally wish all of our mothers, grandmothers, and spiritual mothers a very happy Mother’s Day. Thank you for always caring for us and supporting us in all that we do as your sons and daughters. I hope that this day is filled with such incredible blessings for each of you.
I came across this story a couple of days ago and found that it really resonated with me so I thought I would share it this weekend.
A few years ago, there was a group of salesmen who had gone to a convention in Chicago. At the close of the week, they were rushing to return home, but had arrived at the airport a bit late and were at risk of missing their flight. As they were running through O’Hare Airport, one of the salesmen accidentally knocked over a table that held a display of apples. Apples flew everywhere. But the men didn’t stop. They continued to rush toward their gate and they arrived, just in time. All but one. One of the men had stopped, telling the others that he would catch up to them. He went back to help clean up the mess…and he was glad that he did.
The young lady who was selling the apples was totally blind! She was fundraising for a local charity that assisted with providing resources to help others with that impairment. The salesman found that the girl was softly crying, tears streaming down her cheeks, as she groped for her spilled produce, the crowd swirling about her, rushing to their flights. He knelt to the ground and began gathering up the apples, putting them back on the table, and helping reorganize the display. He also set aside the bruised and battered apples in a separate basket.
When he had finished, he pulled out his wallet and handed the young lady $40 for the damage that his friends and him had caused. He also asked if she was okay. She nodded through her tears. He apologized and said that he hoped they hadn’t spoiled her day too badly. As the salesman started to walk away, the bewildered blind girl grabbed the man’s arm, saying: “Excuse me, sir…are you Jesus?” He responded: “I am not, but I know Him quite well.”
Over the next few days, the man couldn’t get that question out of his head. In hindsight, it was such a simple, small-scale event, but it made him see clearly what following Christ was really about. “Love one another as I have loved you” – to be a Christian means to be another Christ.
Are we Jesus?
Throughout our lives as Christians, all of us are called to go out and share with others how Jesus has changed our lives. It is our responsibility to allow those experience to bring us to action, to be the hands and feet of Jesus, continuing His good works in the world, and reminding others that He wasn’t just a man who lived 2000 years ago. He is the Savior who continues to move and act in the world today, who continues to be with His people, who continues to bring His love and mercy to those who most need to experience it. Often times, others experience His presence through those who follow Him, just as in this story. That’s a similar message that we read about in our first reading today from the Acts of the Apostles.
In the preceding verses leading up to this passage, we read about how challenging it had become for the Disciples to be in the area around Jerusalem. Stephen had just been put to death and members of the Jewish community were seeking to violently bring an end to the message of the Christians. As a result, the Disciples were dispersed throughout the region, which in some way was a blessing in disguise because it allowed them to begin spreading the word about Jesus, sharing the Good News with those in other areas. That is the case in this passage from Acts.
Philip, one of the very first deacons, was in Samaria preaching the Gospel, performing many miracles, bringing people to a recognition of Jesus as the Messiah, and people were welcoming that message. In the course of his time there, he was able to cast out unclean spirits, bringing freedom and liberation to people’s hearts, which paved the way for them to be baptized. The Apostles, who had remained in Jerusalem despite the persecution, had received word about the work Philip had been doing in Samaria and wanted to visit the people there to bring even more of what the Lord could offer; they wanted to bring them the gift of the Holy Spirit. So we see very early on in the Church the institution of the Sacraments and how important those were to bringing others to a fuller experience of Jesus, how it allowed others to be able to go out and be those witnesses to the Gospel, to be Jesus for others.
As Christians, each of us has had an encounter with the Lord that has truly changed our lives in some way. If that hadn’t happened, we wouldn’t be present at Mass this morning. Many of us have experienced His presence in and through the Sacraments that we have received, in our experiences with Him in prayer, or through the hands of our Christian brothers and sisters who live out the command of Jesus to love one another as He has loved us. That is the mark of a true Christian, a true follower of Jesus Christ.
It’s not just about what words we say; it’s not about the rituals that take place in the celebration of the Eucharist or in our other liturgies; it’s not about how sophisticated or complicated our prayers are. It’s about following the example that Jesus sets for us. We look to the One who gave His life for us on the cross, who showed us what true sacrifice is all about. We look to the One who loved us enough to give His life for our salvation and redemption. And we are called to imitate that love.
To give our lives means to sometimes come out of our comfort zones, to take a chance on stepping out of our own little bubble in order to help our neighbors, to help build a world that is more Christ-centered. It means being truthful, responsible, honest, pure, and faithful even when it isn’t a popular thing to do. Even if the world is totally against us, we are called to go out and continue bringing the Good News to others, sharing the Gospel with those who need to hear it. It may even lead to our own experience of persecution. But we can’t let that stop us. Even when it’s inconvenient for us, we must continue being the hands and feet of Jesus. That’s how we follow Him. That is the path to loving Him and living life to the fullest.
It was the path He taught His Apostles. It’s the path that He teaches us. It’s the path He walked before us through His passion, death, and resurrection. It’s the path that the Holy Spirit helps us to walk in our daily lives, assisting us along the way through the Sacraments, and bringing us to an awareness of how we are to be Jesus for others.
So, I ask all of us the same question that the blind young lady from the story I shared asked that salesman who helped her clean up the spilled apples: are we Jesus? Are people able to recognize Jesus in us, through our words and actions? Let’s reflect on those questions this week. As we come forward today to receive Jesus in the Eucharist, let’s ask the Lord to give us the strength and the courage to always do what is right, to be His disciples, to be His hands and feet in the world, to bring others to an encounter with the Love of the Father.
 Story adapted from “Are you Jesus?” available on ePriest.com
Photo: Book of Love by Emmanuel Phaeton. Used under the Unsplash license.