5th Sunday of Easter
May 19, 2019
St. Mary Parish, Pylesville 9:30 and 11:15am
The Heifer Project
Several years ago, my brother Charlie and sister-in-law Lynn sent me a different kind of Christmas gift.
The gift was a sheep. Now, they didn’t send a sheep to me by FedEx.
What they did was to donate a sheep to a very poor family in Uganda. They gave this in my name and as part of what is called is called the Heifer Project.
The Heifer Project is a not-for-profit organization that helps very poor families in Third World countries. The plan is to give a specific animal to a specific family.
The animal might be a sheep, a goat, a heifer, chickens, and on it goes. The family is taught how to care for the animal and then the animal becomes a source of income.
For example, the family might sell the eggs from the chickens or the wool from the sheep. In some Third World countries, this money enables parents to send their children to school, since they do not have free public education.
“By Your Love For One Another…”
Well, I remembered all of this when I was reflecting on today’s gospel.
Jesus says, “Such as my love has been for you, so must your love be for one another. This is how people will know you as my disciples: by your love for one another.”
The Heifer Project is a good example of living out Jesus’ words. My brother and sister-in-law gave a sheep in my name that one Christmas.
And their giving this also helped others who were very much in need. Now, as I look at Jesus’ life, I am seeing three ingredients that are part of our loving others as Jesus has loved us.
1. Looking Beyond Myself
First, we need to look beyond ourselves.
We are to look beyond what I need or what I want. And sometimes we are even to look beyond what is in my best interest to the needs and well-being of others.
When you think about it, this is exactly what Jesus does for us in the Eucharist. He is looking beyond himself to us and our needs.
When I see parents giving of themselves so unselfishly to care for their little baby or child – that, for me, is a great example of this. So, looking beyond ourselves to the needs of others is an essential ingredient in loving as Jesus has loved.
2. Feeling Compassion
Then, we are to allow the needs of others to touch our hearts.
This means that we feel compassion for those who are hurting. We feel empathy for those who are burdened in some way.
Jesus repeatedly feels compassion – for the hungry, the sick, the grieving, the rejected. So, we feel compassion for the friend who has lost his job and is facing a lot of uncertainty
Or we feel empathy for persons in other parts of the world who are subjected to ethnic cleansing. So, allowing the needs of others to touch our hearts is an essential ingredient in loving as Jesus has loved.
3. Committing Something
Finally, we are to do something – to commit something of ourselves to assist others.
We see Jesus repeatedly doing this. In fact, he commits himself so fully to us that he even gives his life for us.
Maybe a father resolves to spend more time with his college-age son who may be going off the tracks a bit. Or maybe you decide to prepare and take a meal over to your neighbor who is grieving the loss of her husband.
Or maybe we donate some money to Catholic Relief Services to assist them in their work in Third World countries. So, committing something of ourselves to assist others is an essential ingredient in loving as Jesus has loved.
1) Looking beyond ourselves to the needs of others,
2) allowing their needs to touch our hearts, and
3) committing something of ourselves to help –
this is loving as Jesus has loved.
And as Jesus says, “This is how people will know you are my disciples: by your love for one another.”