Sunday, May 17, is the Sixth Sunday of Easter (Year B, Cycle I).


Ascension

May 21 is Ascension Thursday, a holy day of obligation in Boston, New York, Philadelphia, Hartford, Conn., Newark, N.J., and all of Nebraska. Elsewhere, the feast is moved to Sunday, May 24.


Media

St. Rita (May 23) figures in two recent films.

The Rookie (2002) is the story of a high school baseball coach who pursues his dream of pitching in the majors. The St. Rita references are brief but at pivotal places: The introduction and conclusion. (Preview it first. We fast-forward the office flirtation near the beginning and, for the little ones, Morris’ long talk with his mom near the middle.)

St. Rita (2004), a dubbed Italian film, offers something for everyone: a strong woman lead grappling with vocation issues, sword fights, and children caught in the middle (tragically, though). Downsides: It’s too long, and too rough for some kids, since it deals with the 14th century mafia (preview it first).


Readings for Mass

Acts 10:25-26, 34-35, 44-48; Psalms 98:1, 2-4; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17

EPriest.com offers free homily packs for priests.


Our Take

Call this “Love Sunday.” The second reading and the Gospel teach practical lessons about love.

The second reading:

1. “God is love.” Love means wanting and doing the best for others. God isn’t just the Creator; he is the one who wants nothing but good for others and does nothing but good to others. To know God, you need to love.

2. “God sent his only Son into the world so that we may have life through him.” God isn’t a spoilsport, and he isn’t a taskmaster. He wants us to thrive and be happy.

3. The key is “not that we have loved God, but that he loved us.” We can sometimes think of our love for God as a favor we extend to him. When we pray or serve him, we feel like he should feel blessed. It’s the other way around. Our response is just an acknowledgement of what God does for us.

The Gospel adds:

1. “If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love.” Like children who object to wise rules, we can get the wrong idea about his commandments, which are meant to help, not hinder us. To love God is to accept his will.

2. “This is my commandment: Love one another as I love you.” Love is a matter of the will, not the emotions. It’s something we choose to do — and thus something we can be commanded to do.

3. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one’s life for one’s friends.” The ultimate love is the love that is willing to sacrifice all. This is the love of soldiers for their countries. But it’s also the love of mothers who live their lives for their children, fathers whose decisions are directed toward their families, and priests, whose vocation is to be for others.