Homily for May 14, 2017 5th Sunday Easter - A
by Dcn. Bob Bonomi
First, Happy Mother’s Day to all of the Mothers, Grandmothers, Great-Grandmothers, Soon-To-Be Mothers, Single Mothers, Mother Figures who care for the children of others, and Mother Surrogates – that’s single men who are both Father and Mother to their children.
And let’s not forget to include our Heavenly Mother, the Blessed Virgin Mary. We often hear that Jesus gave his mother to us when he said to John as he stood at the foot of the cross, “Here is your mother”, but Jesus also made his mother responsible for us, when he told Mary, “Woman, behold, your son.”
The various Marian apparitions which have occurred over the centuries show us a mother’s love and care for her children. She comes, not because she was invited by us to come, but because as our mother she is watching over us and she comes to us, uninvited, out of love; to instruct us, to guide us – to warn us – as only a mother can.
This weekend marks the 100th Anniversary of the first appearance of our Heavenly Mother to three children at Fatima: Lúcia Santos, Jacinta Marto and Francisco Marto. In his homily for the canonization of Jacinta and Francisco, Pope Francis said, “Our Lady foretold, and warned us about, a way of life that is godless and indeed profanes God in his creatures. Such a life – frequently proposed and imposed – risks leading to hell.”
How many times have we heard our earthly mothers warn us of the consequences of bad choices in our own lives?
So this Mother’s Day, let us all say a Rosary to the Blessed Virgin for her intercession on behalf of all the mothers in our lives. And, remember, Our Lady of Fatima asked for daily recitation of the rosary for peace and the conversion of the godless. Saying the Rosary has brought about miracles in the past; Our Lady’s message was a call to action then and is still a call to action now. Which brings us to today’s Gospel.
It ends with Jesus telling his disciples, “Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these..."
Jesus’ works – what made them “great”? Jesus said we’d do greater things than he did - what could be “greater” than the miracles he did?
The Gospels list 35 specific miracles, or “great works” of Jesus, and they indirectly refer to others. These “works” can be divided into 4 main categories:
There are also many instances of “miracles” performed by his disciples.
Do we believe that we too can perform miracles? Why not? Do we think that those who followed Jesus back then were somehow “better” than us in some way? Maybe we just need to change our focus a little. In order to be a “miracle-worker”, we need to have faith. And if we have faith, then we should make serving God a priority in our life.
Our first reading shows that things today aren’t really so different than the very beginnings of the Church. They had issues in caring for one another. “As the number of disciples continued to grow, the Hellenists complained against the Hebrews because their widows were being neglected in the daily distribution.”
The Church’s response? “Brothers, select from among you seven reputable men.”
How often do we joke and say that we are not reputable people, therefore it can’t be us that are being called. When Stephen and the others were selected, do you think any of them said, “I’m too busy right now, pick someone else”?
How do I know what God is calling me to do? By listening with your heart to those who call upon you – beginning with your Church community. The Church cannot do it alone – and neither can you. Last week, Arnold Schwarzenegger said while delivering a commencement speech at the University of Houston:
“This is so important for you to understand. I didn’t make it that far on my own. I mean, to accept that credit or that mantle would discount every single person that has helped me to get here today — that gave me advice, that made an effort, that gave me time, that lifted me when I fell. It gives the wrong impression that we can do it alone. None of us can. The whole concept of self-made man, or woman, is a myth.” … “You’ve got to help others. Don’t just think about yourself.”
The last several Sundays we have been short ushers, EM’s, even altar servers. And within the last couple of weeks, you should have received a list of other volunteer opportunities at St. Paul’s and a request for participation in our upcoming stewardship drive. These are not low-priority might-do’s – these are "must-do's" - the things that are necessary from you in order that we, as Church, can continue to bring God’s message of love and mercy to the world – and especially to each other.
And, when you tell yourself that you are too busy or too poor or too overwhelmed to give any more of yourself, remember that God can work miracles through you. In the words of the Reverend Phillips Brooks (and quoted by both Presidents John F. Kennedy and Donald J. Trump):
“O, do not pray for easy lives. Pray to be stronger men! Do not pray for tasks equal to your powers. Pray for powers equal to your tasks! Then the doing of your work shall be no miracle. But you shall be a miracle. Every day you shall wonder at yourself, at the richness of life which has come to you by the grace of God.”
You can be a miracle-worker. Be one! Do not be afraid. Ask God for Strength, for Courage, for Wisdom. And let us ask the Blessed Virgin Mary, Our Mother – Pray for Us.