Love & Kryptonite: A Cautionary Commencement Homily
I recently heard a story – it’s one of my all-time favorites. One day, a teacher asks her class a question: What language do you think God speaks? One child says English. Another says Latin. Another even guesses Hebrew. Finally, one girl puts up her hand and says, “I know. I know. God’s language is love!”
She’s right, isn’t she? God’s language is love. She has to be right or our scripture readings today are all wrong. And we’re in the wrong place here at Mass. It’s almost a one-wo punch. One: love is of God. Two: God’s love was revealed to us because God sent his only Son into the world so that we might have life through him. God’s love sends Jesus so we might have life through him. Let’s take a closer look.
These 50 days after Easter comprise the Easter Season. And the Jesus of the Easter Season is simply bringing the love. If Jesus is a super-hero, and he certainly is, then what’s his superpower? Yes! Love! Jesus is risen from the dead, and he comes with one thing on his mind: love!
The Risen Jesus is alive and present, but make no mistake – Jesus did die on the cross two millennia ago. He laid down his life out of love for us, his friends. Didn’t we hear Jesus say in today’s gospel: “Greater love than this no one has, than to lay down one’s life for one’s friends”? But now he lives and we have life through his love.
Isn’t this why Christians gather every Sunday? We proclaim that Jesus is risen and among us. So, what’s my point? We need to keep reminding ourselves that we are surrounded by God’s love.
The great Christian mystic Meister Eckhart says this:
- “Divine love always gives all it can at the perfect moment.”
- “And the greatest gift God can give is God’s own experience. . . . to see as God sees, to know as God knows, to feel as God feels, to BE as God is!”
And right here/now is the perfect moment because God’s love is giving us all it can. And what is this gift of God’s own experience? Let’s think about it. God’s very being is love, so God’s experience is love.
But wait, there’s more. A darker “more.” It’s kryptonite. The Jesuit poet, Gerard Manly Hopkins, wrote this about the Risen Jesus: “Let him easter in us, be a dayspring to the dimness of us.”
The dimness of us must be caused by some kind of anti-love. Every “superpower” seems to have a negative force that can defeat it. For Superman, remember, the anti-superpower is called kryptonite. But what about our Christian superpower, Christ’s-love Eastered into us? What is the something – the kryptonite – that can weaken our love? It’s the Secular Age in which we all live and move and have our being.
Here’s a story that shines a bright light on this Secular Age. An off‑Broadway play a while back showed a couple sitting in a downtown apartment, when a Salvation Army band parades by blaring a Jesus song. The man gets up, slams the window, saying, “I really don't see what Jesus can do for us.”
Listen! Can’t we hear windows slamming shut all over our world? That’s our Secular Age, saying “I really don't see what Jesus can do for us.”
And once Jesus Chris is shut out, the Secular Age is given full reign. Then too bad for love because the Secular Age has only two values – prosperity and security.
Love cannot be monetized to feed its prosperity needs. Nor can compassion, loyalty, kindness, or joy. So beware of love’s kryptonite: this damnable Secular Age.
So here we are: commencement. What advice might I give you graduating seniors? These few words: “The main thing is to know the main thing and to keep the main thing the main thing.”
The scriptures for this 6th Sunday of Easter have main-thinged it: That main thing is our superpower, love. God’s love, Christ’s love, and that love Eastered into us.
Now, look around you. Look at all these friends and family and colleagues. Don’t we know they mean so much more to us than prosperity and security? Hear again Jesus’ command: “Love one another as I love you.”
Loudly now, with one voice: What is our main thing? LOVE!
Many thanks to the students and musicians who led the liturgy at the 2021 Commencement Mass, organized by the Office of Mission & Ministry.