Courage to Love

Good Friday | April 10, 2020

See today’s readings here. This homily was preached online due to Covid-19. Video recordings of the Sunday evening Mass, where Fr. Brian regularly preaches, are available on Facebook at Delaware Koinonia. The archive of all of Fr. Brian’s homilies can be found hereSalesian Sermons

Last year, right around Mother’s Day, the Delaware News Journal did a story of mothers who had lost children to violence here in the city of Wilmington.

And I must admit, I fully intended to skip the article.

For I have had more than my share of working with moms who have lost children.  And I just didn’t need that reminder that morning.

But then I noticed one of the women in the photos.

And I realized that I recognized her.  For a little over two years ago, she had adopted her two nephews when their mother died.  I remembered the grace by which she carried the family through the death of her sister and how she had jumped right into the task of raising two young men, guiding them through the tumultuous teenage years.

And yet, I never knew she had lost a son of her own.

So I called her and told her I had seen her in the paper.  How she had given a truly heartfelt interview.

There was a quiet pause and a sincere thank you.  

But then I asked the question I couldn’t get out of my mind.  How did you do it, my friend?  How did you adopt those two boys after just losing one of your own?

I could hear the weary smile through the phone.

Fr. Brian.  Life keeps on moving.  And you gotta keep loving.  That’s all we can ever do.

I thought a lot about her today, as I prepared my homily for Good Friday.

For I just couldn’t help but think of her as I re-read the last words of Christ to his mother.

Behold your son.

For that could not have been easy.

There is no way anyone could have filled the Christ size hole that was ripped into Mary’s heart that afternoon.

No other individual would have replaced her son.  No other individual would have spoken her name like he did.  No other individual would have given her a kiss on the cheek like he did.  No other individual would have preached and healed and confronted like he did.

But what if the disciple didn’t have to replace Jesus?

What if Mary didn’t try to fill the hole or replace her son?

What if she simply took the advice of my dear friend.  You gotta keep loving.

You gotta keep stretching your own heart wider and wider, finding that in doing so the holes in our hearts don’t seem so large, so terrible, so all encompassing.

My friends, each of us has holes in our hearts.

Some are rather small by comparison.  Others feel cavernous

The cruel piece of gossip

The friend’s betrayal

The breakup

The move

The terminal diagnosis

The loss of a job

The abrupt cancellation of one’s senior year

The death of the one we love

Some happened decades ago.  Others are far more recent.

But faced with these holes, we as Christians have a choice.

We can hide in these holes.  Allowing the grief and pain and rage to wash over us and consume us.

Or we can keep loving.  Gently pushing out the boundaries of our hearts to encompass each of our sisters and brothers who need our love.  

Knowing that as our heart grows, the holes gently diminish in size and intensity.  

I know the choice that my friend made.  And I know the choice that Mary made.

May we have the courage to walk in the footsteps of these holy women.  May we have the courage to love.

May God be Praised.  

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