For a full copy of the Newsletter for the Sixth Sunday of Easter please click on the link; 6th Sunday Easter 060518
From the USS Constitution to the Bunker Hill Monument or simply walking along the Freedom Trail, Boston has many attractions and places of interest to keep any tourist fully occupied. One of the places along the freedom Trail that sneaks up and surprises many tourists is the Boston Holocaust Memorial in Quincy Markets.
Completed in 1995, the memorial is simply six glass towers that each soar 54 feet above a black granite walkway. Lighting from within causes them to shimmer in daylight and glow at night. At a distance, the towers look eerie and transparent. Up close, they seem rugged and almost opaque. The closer you look at the six glass towers the more you realize that etched into the glass are numbers – six million in total – representing those exterminated in the concentration camps.
At the base of the sixth glass tower is a quote from holocaust survivor Gerda Weissman Klein who recalls her friend called Ilse. Gerda remembers the morning when Ilse, who was about six years old at the time of her internment at Auschwitz, found a single raspberry somewhere in the camp. Ilse carried the raspberry all day long in a protected fold of her pocket. That evening, her eyes shining with happiness, Ilse presented the raspberry on a leaf to her friend Gerda.
“Imagine a world,” writes Gerda, “in which your entire possession is one raspberry, and you give it to your friend.”
In the midst of the horror of the Holocaust, little Ilse manages to discover the joy that only comes from bringing that same joy to another. It transforms that misunderstood and often misused word love from a syrupy and fuzzy feeling into a verb! It is that joy that Pope Francis taps into at the beginning of this Apostolic Exhortation ‘The Joy of the Gospel’: “Whenever our interior life becomes caught up in its own interests and concerns, there is no longer room for others, no place for the poor. God’s voice is no longer heard, the quiet joy of his love is no longer felt and the desire to do good fades.”
In the opening lines of today’s gospel Jesus says very clearly “as the father has loved me so I have loved you. Remain in my love”. Living that reality of being unconditionally loved empowers us, as Jesus says, to “love one another as I love you.”
Jesus’ love was to lay down his life in a specific way. Our love lays down our life often in small, unseen ways. Hours spent with a sick child or the time surrendered to journey with parents. The quiet sacrifices made by mothers and fathers for their children; the unnoticed generosity extended to a stranger; the unobserved and gratuitous act of kindness that changes someone’s life.
The message of today’s gospel is a big challenge in simple ways for most of us. But it shows that the most enjoyable mystery of life – love – is the only commandment of God! It reminds us powerfully that God is on our side. This week we will all try to live out our faith in practical and sometime scary ways. Only by accepting this challenge do we stand a chance of discovering the joy that comes with what we all want most to do and experience – to love and be loved.
Fr Peter Brannelly