May 10, 2015 - 6th Sunday of Easter, Year B
Saint Martin de Tours Catholic Church
By now I'm sure you know that the parishioners who attended the pilgrimage to Rome had an audience with Pope Francis. It was an amazing and inspirational moment in the lives of each one of us.
When Pope Francis, riding in the Pope Mobile pulled into St. Peter's Square I noticed immediately that there was no more bullet proof glass around him.
We could all see him clearly. He was right there. He is not afraid. He understands what Jesus says: there is no greater love than this, to lay down one's life for his friends.
Pope Francis is willing to lay down his life to be close to God’s people, to show the faithful, some of whom have traveled great distances to see him, that he loves them. In this he imitates Jesus and shows all people that God loves them.
As he passed by us we could see in his eyes and in his smile that he is full of life and full of joy. Our Holy Father radiates peace and love and is clearly filled with God's Holy Spirit.
And during the audience he imitated Jesus again by calling us friends and expressing his great affection for all of us, our families, and all our loved ones especially our children and those who are sick and suffering.
At the audience he spoke of the husband and wife at the Wedding at Cana. Many of you have already heard this story but I think it's worth telling again at Sunday Mass for all of us to hear.
He explained that the story shows us of Jesus’ concern for this newly formed family, for the husband and his wife. He spoke of the role of motherhood and the role of fatherhood.
He went on to speak about how important a family is for children. He also spoke about all the things in our world today that work against the family.
He reminded us that Jesus’ miracle at the Wedding at Cana shows us that Jesus care about our families as well.
As our Holy Father was speaking a pair of doves flew into St. Peter's Square and several times, they flew around the place where Francis was seated.
And then together, they flew around the entire crowd that had gathered for the audience.
There were 4000 seats placed in the Square. But there were many more people who did not have seats filling up the rest of the square. There were probably some 10,000 people gathered and those two doves flew around and circled all the people.
After this, the two doves, always in tandem, always together, flew back to where Pope Francis was seated and circled him one more time. Then they flew off in a different direction from where they came.
Where else do we see doves behave in this manner? We see one in the Gospel come down at Jesus's baptism and hover over him.
And who is it that the gospel writer says the dove represents? The Holy Spirit. And what does the Holy Spirit say to Jesus at his baptism? You are my beloved with whom I am well pleased.
Those doves, representing husband and wife, flew over not only Francis but the entire crowd gathered. The Holy Spirit hovered over all of us announcing: you are all my beloved with whom I am well pleased.
And if you're tempted to say, well it seems that Father Richard has gone crazy, let me remind you of what St. John said in his first letter from which we just read.
Beloved let us love one another because God is love. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love. You are my beloved.
It is not that we have loved God, but that God has loved us and sent his Son to save us from our sins.
This is the message of the Gospel. This is the message of our Holy Father. This is the message of our church. This is the message of the Holy Spirit. This is the message of God:
You are my beloved with whom I am well pleased.
As we sit today in this holy place basking in the love of God, knowing that God is already well pleased, I think there is only one simple question we need to ask ourselves:
Now that I have heard this message from the Gospel, from Pope Francis, from the doves, from Saint John, from the lips of Father Richard that I'm loved, how am I going to love in return?