Joy Vernon, a wife and mother of three, had no idea her life would be changed forever when she set off on a family vacation to the Colorado Mountains. Joys love and maternal extinct to protect her children would be put to the ultimate test.
During a family outing Joy’s three children aged seven, five and three ran ahead and jumped in their SUV, to everybody’s surprise the vehicle began rolling down a steep path with the children trapped inside. The SUV was gaining speed and heading straight towards a cliff on the edge of a deep canyon. Joy, her husband and parents ran after the children horrified. Joy could see the fear on the little faces of her children. She knew she had to stop that car no matter what it took, so she threw herself in front of the moving SUV in attempt to stop it. But Joy’s tiny body was no match, she was thrown to the ground and the massive vehicle rolled over her crushing her beneath its wheels, but her amazing act of love was enough to slow the SUV just enough, so her father was able to jump into the front seat and hit the emergency break without a second to spare. Miraculously she survived although she would be paralyzed from the waist down. When she was recovering in the hospital she was asked “knowing now what you know would you have jumped in front of your SUV” she answered without hesitation “without a doubt, I love my children more than anything, I would do anything for them.”
Love is a powerful emotion, Love can motivates us, and gives us a purpose. Love can be painful, or bring us Joy, and as we celebrate Mother’s Day, we are reminded of the amazing Love of a mother.
In today’s Gospel reading we are also reminded of the source of such a Love, just like the sun is the source of light, heat and life to the earth, As Christians God is our source of Love, Jesus reminds his disciples, and us, “I love you just as the Father loves me”
And how does God Love us?
God’s Love is first and foremost unconditional, God loves us because of who we are not because of what we have done or not done. His Love is forgiving and merciful and full of Grace. Like a parents Love for their children.
My Son Philip and his wife, Mallory are here this morning, and I’m excited to say they are expecting my granddaughter in July. And although my Daughter Lisa and her husband, Brian are unable to be here this morning they are expected my first grandson in June. I know they already love their children dearly, even though they have not yet met them, they don’t know what they looks like yet, or what their personalities will be like, will they be good in sports, will be musicians or perhaps politicians, There will be good days and difficult days, learning curves, worries, there will be crying and laughing, let downs, and triumphs, Late nights and Early mornings. But none of this matters they already love them unconditionally and I know no matter what parenthood brings them, they always will. And I am confident that because my grandchildren are loved, they will learn to Love others.
Jesus says to remain in his Love we must obey his commandment, and his commandment is this “that we love one another, just as he love us. I believe one of the most important things to God is that we share his Love that he so freely gives to us with others. The kind of Love that transcends all other loves, because it is ready to give of itself totally, without hope or expectation of receiving anything at all in return. I once heard this, a bell is not a bell until it rings, a song is not a song until its sung, and Love is not Love until it is given away.
Mother Teresa’s life was a great example of unconditional love, of a life of sacrifice and service, Mother Teresa was LOVE IN ACTION, she served the Poorest of the Poor and believed everyone was a precious child of God and deserved to live and die with dignity, and Love. Now we can’t all be Mother Teresa’s she was an extraordinary women, But listen to what she said “Not all of us can do great things. But we can all do small things with great Love”
Even in the midst of misery and suffering that Mother Teresa encountered every day, People who meet her said she had such a “spirit of joy” and that it was contagious. How was this possible? How can you live such a life of sacrifice and still have such Joy? Mother Teresa was filled with the Love of God, You cannot be filled with Love of God and not have God’s Joy. She knew that God loved her beyond words and she demonstrated, that love to everyone she met with joy.
There was a notorious jewel thief, Jack Murphy (AKA Murph the Surf) who stole the world’s largest sapphire in 1964, the 563 –carat (Star of India). Murphy would become a Christian in 1974 as a result of a prison ministry. He would subsequently lead Bible studies and mentored other inmates until his release from prison in 1986, and he has been involved in prison ministry ever since then. Years following his release from prison, when asked about his conversion to Christianity, he would recount “I didn’t get letters from the bartenders, the hoodlums and all the wise guys I hung around with, I got letters from Christians I didn’t even know.”
Consider this---- Our actions in Love can change lives. Those who reached out to Jack Murphy the criminal had no idea, the effect that may have on his life and the lives of others. The power of God’s Love transforms Lives.
Mila was a young girl who had a tragic and horrific childhood, a victim of malicious and prolonged abuse by her natural parents, she would undergo years of corrective surgery to repair the damage to her body, but the damage to her soul was, not surprisingly, even more severe. Mila’s was placed into a loving Christian foster family, who almost unbelievable kept loving Mila unconditionally not allowing themselves to be drawn into Mila’s repeated efforts to make them reject her and treat her as she felt she deserved and no matter what Mila did or how she treated them, they would not give up on her. They were patient, kind, and forgiving, they loved her unconditionally something Mila had never experienced she had never been loved, so she didn’t know how to react to Love. Gently they communicated to her the grace that they knew in their relationship to God. Gradually they also introduced her to the source of that grace. Slowly both faith and trust began to develop, she began the long road to healing and eventually she learned not only to receive love but to give it.
It is easy to love the lovable, but God Calls us to love all people not to judge them, but to love them unconditionally.
God’s Love has the power to heal, even in the most difficult situations, God is counting on us, to be patient and persistent, over flowing with his love.
Maximilian Kolbe was a Polish Priest and prisoner of Auschwitz during WW2. In July 1941 A man from Kolbe’s barracks vanished, and in an attempt to deter any further escapes, the camp commander, picked 10 men from the same barracks and sentenced them to death by starvation. Franciszek Gajowniczek, (Lets call him Francis) Francis was one of the ten men selected, he trembled in fear and couldn’t resist crying out in anguish pleading for mercy, “Please do not Kill me, My wife and children they need me.” And then the unthinkable, Father Maximilian Kolbe stepped silently forward, took off his cap, and said I am a Catholic Priest, I am old, I have no wife or children let me take his place. The Commander remained silent for a moment----I’m sure in shock of such an offer. And then he agreed, Francis was returned to the ranks and Maximilian took his place.
Francis later recalled:
“I could only thank him with my eyes. I was stunned and could hardly grasp what was going on. The immensity of it. I the condemned to die would live and someone else willingly and voluntarily offers his life for me.
Jesus said “The greatest Love a person can have for is friends is to give his life for him”
Jesus paid the highest price for you and me because He loves us more than we could ever imagine. He voluntarily took our place and paid the price of our sins. And as he hung on the cross, he was an example of the unconditional love we are to have for others when he said “forgive them for they know not what they do”.
Let me finish with a message from Mother Teresa:
“I pray that you will understand the words of Jesus, “love one another as I have loved you” Ask yourself “how has he loved me? Do I really love others in the same way? Unless this love is among us, we can kill ourselves with work and it will only be work, not love. Work without love is slavery”
In the name of the Father, The Son, and Holy Spirit.