Love of God Knows No Bounds: Our Adoption As God's
by the Reverend Noel E. Bordador
Preached on the Feast of Pentecost, 2010
"When the day of Pentecost came, they were all together in one place. Suddenly a sound like the blowing of a violent wind came from heaven and filled the whole house where they were sitting. They saw what seemed to be tongues of fire that separated and came to rest on each of them. All of them were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak in other tongues as the Spirit enabled them. Now there were staying in Jerusalem God-fearing Jews from every nation under heaven. When they heard this sound, a crowd came together in bewilderment, because each one heard them speaking in his own language. Utterly amazed, they asked: "Are not all these men who are speaking Galileans? Then how is it that each of us hears them in his own native language? Parthians, Medes and Elamites; residents of Mesopotamia, Judea and Cappadocia, Pontus and Asia, Phrygia and Pamphylia, Egypt and the parts of Libya near Cyrene; visitors from Rome (both Jews and converts to Judaism); Cretans and Arabs-we hear them declaring the wonders of God in our own tongues!" - Acts 2: 1-11
When I preached a couple of Sundays ago (on Mother’s Day) I mentioned that twenty four years ago, my mother decided to adopt a baby girl who was given away by her own biological mother. I was happy to welcome a new baby sister to the family. However, there were a few relatives and friends of the family that did not like this for various reasons, and so some of them treated her differently or rejected her because she was not a blood relative. No matter how much love my parents showered her, I knew it was painful for my sister later on to be reminded by others that she was “not one of us”. My mother always, always had a big heart. It’s both her strength and it could also be her weakness- weakness because when you open your heart really, really wide, you can get hurt or be taken advantage of by people. Yet, I admire her generosity of spirit and magnanimity of heart, and that the age of sixty, she chose to adopt and raise a child whose life was threatened to be taken away by her very own mother.
One of the reasons often invoked by people who thought the adoption was a bad idea was that my adopted sister would divide- if not totally take away- my parents’ love that should be reserved only for me and my biological brother and sisters. This did not have much effect on my mother. For her, there was enough love to go around. She rejected the premise that the human heart is very limited in its capacity to give love. If there is anything I learned from or am learning from my mother, it is this: to believe in the deep capacity of our heart for love and compassion.
In today’s first reading from the Acts of Apostles, the story goes that the Holy Spirit descended upon the followers of Jesus. The Holy Spirit empowered them to preach the Gospel of love- to proclaim the Good News of salvation though Jesus - to a diverse group of people whose nationality, culture, language and perhaps religion differed greatly from that of the disciples. What is important to note in this story is that it is God’s desire to expand his family. His love is not reserved for a chosen few, his grace is not limited to a certain group of people, but that love’s aim is universal- transcending national and geographical boundaries, overcoming divisions due to race, culture, and language. There’s enough of God’s love to go around.
Yet, we often are misled to believe that there is a scarcity of God’s love, that God’s grace is limited, and therefore, needed to be rationed off to a worthy few. Sometimes, in the Name of God, we create distinctions and discrimination as to who are the “worthy” ones, and who are the “unworthies.” And often we make it difficult for those differ from us to have some part of our community, fellowship and Church. And we, too, believe that there is not enough love to go around. We think that our hearts are incapable of loving deeply, deep enough to be open to all people, including people who are different from us. But today’s story from the Acts of Apostles provide us a glimpse to the truth about God and about us. The story tells us that his love and grace is generous, unlimited and universal. God loves everybody, God’s grace is meant for all, and God does not exclude anyone, including those we judge to be unworthy of his love. Differences in race, culture, language, politics, or even religious beliefs and moral status do not limit access to God and his love in Christ. And the story today also tells us that just as what the Holy Spirit opened the hearts of the disciples to others, making them less fearful of differences, distinctions and diversity in the human race, the same Spirit bestows upon us the same gift of a loving heart that is capable of welcoming all people.
In a few minutes, as we end the great season of Easter, we will renew the vows we made at our Baptism. By this so great Sacrament, we have been made children of God by adoption. Jesus Christ is begotten of the Father, sharing in his divinity and it is only him who is properly called the Son of God. We differ from the Jesus, the Son of God because we are not God- for we are not begotten by the Father according to his divine nature. Yet, God expanded his “family” not by begetting another divine Son but by adopting us human beings as his children. But, God loves us no less, in the same way my mother loved my adoptive sister no less than her own biological children. And it is this universal love, the love that is open to all people, even people who are different from us, the love that celebrates diversity is the kind of love to which we are called to embody in our lives.
© 2010 Noel E. Bordador
Noel Bordador is a gay Filipino priest in the Episcopal Diocese of New York.
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