HOMILY: In Giving, We Receive

Fr. Brian Zumbrum’s homilies and reflections are posted weekly at Leaven in the World. To see the archive of all his posts, just click hereSalesian Sermons

6th Sunday of Easter | May 9/10, 2015

PROTIP: Before reading on, be sure to take a look at the readings here. This homily is based on the Gospel reading.

I must admit, when my youngest brother moved out of the house, I was worried about my parents.

See, my parents had spent the last 20 years of their life dedicating their entire lives to us boys.

They had accepted that quiet dinners for two would suddenly become boisterous affairs for ten as my brothers and I waltzed in with a group of friends.

They had accepted that most of their social life would involve seeing their friends at band competitions, play practices, and baseball games.

They had accepted that they would not necessarily be able to take the higher paying job because it would demand too much travel, too much time away from home.

So when they were suddenly empty-nesters, I was genuinely concerned.

What would life be like for them without the three of us there at every turn?

Though it seemed like a valid concern at the time, my parents have shown me how silly my worries were.

For my parents adapted beautifully to life without their children at home.

They both went back to school and earned their Masters degrees.

They both began to seriously mentor younger members of their profession, treating them as they once treated the scores of kids who found counsel and comfort under their roof.

They both made themselves more available to their friends and family, journeying with them through dark valleys of abandonment, loss, and the limitations that come with aging.

They continued to give of themselves as they had always done.  They continued to love as they had always done.

And, I couldn’t help but think of my parents today, as we celebrate Mother’s Day.  For the readings from this week capture my parents perfectly.

For I believe that my parents have spent their lives trying to live the lesson that Jesus was trying to teach his disciples in today’s Gospel.

The lesson that the only way we can truly keep those things that are most important to us is when we give them away.

My parents realized that they could not hold onto us forever.  We had been entrusted to their care as a gift.  And in turn, they had been amazing stewards of that gift.

But ultimately, my brothers and I were a gift that needed to be given to the world.  To help continue the work of my parents.  The work of bringing about God’s kingdom here on earth.

And so they let us go.

Knowing that we would forever be a part of them, of their story, of their past, their present and their future.

Jesus too realized this truth about his own disciples.  That these women and men who had been entrusted to his care were a gift from the Father.  And he in turn had been an amazing steward of that gift.  He had taught them and formed them, he had chastised them and forgiven them, he had warned them and comforted them.

But then he too had to face the reality that he would need to let them go.  He could not shield them from the separation that was to come as he was taken to the cross.  He could not shield them from the real parting that would come with the Ascension.

More importantly, he also knew that they could not become his disciples to the world if he kept them with him.  They needed to go forth to preach and teach, to heal and forgive, to challenge and to comfort.  To continue the work of building up the Kingdom of God.

And so he let them go.

Knowing that he would forever be a part of them, of their story, of their past, of their present, of their future.

My friends, each of this day is presented with this same paradox that Jesus faced, that my parents faced.

The paradox that we must give away what we ever hope to keep permanently.

We must give away those we love to the world.

We must give away our students as they graduate and move to the next educational or vocational horizon.

We must give away our children as they grow up and leave home.

We must give away our friends as they move to next a new job opportunity or enter into a new relationship.

We must give away our parents and grandparents as they eventually take the journey from this life to the next.

We must give away joy to the world.  Trusting that our own happiness will only increase as we learn to find happiness in the world around us, as we learn to bring happiness to others.

We must give away love to the world.  Trusting that we will encounter love as we learn to love one another.  That we will encounter God when we learn to see God in one another.

No one claimed that this process would be easy.  We only need to see that Jesus’ journey led to the cross to understand that.

But just because this process is hard, does not mean that we should shy away from it.  For if we are an Easter people, then we must trust that the bonds we share will only be enriched by a love that loves someone enough to let them go.

Go my friends and bear fruit that will remain.

May God be Praised.

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