Servants of the Pierced Hearts of Jesus and Mary - Homilies


Homily for the 6th Sunday in Easter
Fr. Jonathan L. Reardon
May 10, 2015
Year B

In Peter Jackson's 2001 movie, The Fellowship of the Ring – loosely based on Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings novel – we get a glimpse of an unusual love story. Aragorn, the heir to the throne of the great Kingdom of Gondor, is anxious and fearful about his responsibility to defend Middle Earth against the evil menace of Sauron. In the midst of his melancholy and doubt, Arwen, the beautiful Elf-Princess, finds him and comforts him. They have known each other for a long time, and it is clear that they are in love. But Arwen is an Elf, and elves are immortal. So if she were to marry Aragorn, a human, she would have to give up her immortality. That has made them hesitate to pledge themselves to each other, even though their love is deep. She realizes that only the power of true love can give him the strength he needs to fulfill his mission. She reaffirms her love for him, but sees that it is not enough just to tell him that she loves him. She has to show it. In that moment, she overcomes all of their previous hesitations and decides that she will give herself completely to him, sacrificing her immortality out of love, as she says in a passionate whisper: “I choose a mortal life.”
Even in the realm of fantasy, the true nature of love is revealed – that it is costly, it is self-sacrificial, that it involves giving oneself as opposed to indulging oneself. This is precisely what makes love beautiful and God-like.

Building upon last week’s Gospel, Jesus makes it even more evident as to what it means to abide/remain in His love: “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends” (Jn 15:13). This is the most explicit statement in John’s Gospel of what it means to love as Jesus loves. His words echo the ideals of friendship expressed in classical Greek philosophy – such as Plato and Aristotle – that to die for another is noble. But here, this classical notion of friendship is elevated through the death of Jesus and given a new context – that to lay down one’s life for another is not just noble, it is Godly. Thus, as even the movies can demonstrate, love involves sacrifice. It involves self-denial, self-giving. It involves a death because, as Jesus makes known to us in His passion, death and resurrection, through death comes life.

The best example to be drawn from is the Sacrament of Marriage. In this sacrament, we are not dealing with a contract – an agreement and exchange of goods – rather marriage is a covenant, an exchange of persons. Marriage involves death. This is precisely what Arwen chooses for Aragorn. She knows that her sacrifice, choosing death, will bring life to her beloved. In the marital covenant we see how man and woman go together, how they complete one another in a bond of self-sacrifice. Their oneness makes known to others the true nature of love and becomes, for all to see, an image of the love of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. As the bond of love in the Blessed Trinity gives life to our souls, so the bond of love between husband and wife results in life – in their children and in themselves. This is why marriage in our culture needs to be defended, not redefined.

It is to this love that Jesus calls each of us – ordained, married, single, young and old. We are all held accountable to how we love. The problem is that we have a misunderstanding in the world today about what is true love. Often we think of it in the context of ourselves – what we get out of it, the pleasure it brings us, in this sense, love is egotistical and a product of narcissism. We were meant for love, we were created for love – made for relationship. In this sense, we have to stop thinking about what I can get, but what can I give. What can I give? Namely, myself – my whole entire self. This is the example of love that Jesus has left for us to make our own. This love is not easy, it is a cross to bear. It is guided by His commandments and ordered toward communion. When we see love in this context, we begin to see it more and more as the one and only path to true wisdom and joy. Our egos take a back seat to humility; our self-centeredness becomes Christ-centered. It becomes our very identity.

Imagine starting the week writing out things we can do for people – things we can do to ease the burdens of our spouses; lighten the responsibilities of our parents; make our co-worker’s job a little easier; ease the burden of someone who is suffering. Truly, love is not meant to be complicated. It is meant to be lived. In relationships of self-sacrifice and self-giving, we order ourselves toward greater communion – a deeply held bond of love – with God and one another. In this sense, we find life truly life-giving and Spirit-filled. Each day then, we must ask ourselves: “what can I give today?” “How can I give life to others?” 


Fr. Jon Reardon

Rev. Jonathan L. Reardon is a priest for the diocese of Springfield in Massachusetts.
He serves at Sacred Heart Parish in Pittsfield, MA.

See other homilies of Fr. Jon Reardon...
Return to multimedia home...

SCTJM logo
Return to main page