HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: JESUS’ NEW COMMANDMENT
BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 15 2022
Acts 14: 21-27
Rev 21: 1-5
John 13: 31-33, 34-35
As humans we are always looking out for what is new. What’s the new brand of car in market? What’s the new hairstyle? What’s the new lace material? What’s the new shoe…? What are the new computer and electronic gadgets? What’s the new phone, what are the new applications, etc. On the TV are adverts presenting us with new products.
Today’s readings are about new things: the New Jerusalem, a new heaven and a new earth, and a new commandment. The first reading, from the Acts of the Apostles, describes how the small Christian communities helped the work of renewal in their members by their agápe love, imitating the agápe love of Paul and Barnabas. The second reading from the Book of Revelation explains how God renews His Church by being present in her members and in their parish communities and liturgical celebrations. Today’s gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” (John 13: 35).
But for us to partake in the Newness of life that God offers us His people through His son, there is a requirement to fulfil. This requirement is what Jesus presents to his disciple in the gospel.
Today, Jesus is presenting us too with a new requirement, which he calls a New Commandment. This new Commandment is what Jesus is using to form us into a new people for God the Father.
On this statement of Jesus, I propose three things for us to reflect on:
First, it is a Command. It is not a suggestion. It is not a request and it is not an option. First and foremost, it is a command or an order. Being a command, it calls for total obedience on our part. In other words, it is an obligation to love one another.
Second, the Lord says to us: “Love one another.” He did not say: “Love one another when the other one has stopped offending you.” He did not say: “love one another when the other loves you or do good to you or he/she is cute or he/she is rich.” The Lord only says, “Love one another,” without any conditions or limitations. In other words, to love is forever.
Third, the Lord says: “Love one another as I have loved you.” In this statement, once again, Jesus reminds us that love is the primary identity of his followers. That is, it is not the liturgy or the cultic worship, but love which is the core and the soul of our Christian life.
When St. Bernard was asked, what is the measure of love, he answered: “The measure of love is to love without measure.” Our Lord Jesus Christ gave us an example of a love without measure. This is the reason why we have to love one another not in the measure of our human ability to love, or on account of how others can return our love, but as God has loved us.
There’s a story about a man who came out of his office one Christmas morning and found a little boy from a nearby project looking with great admiration at the man’s new vehicle. The little boy asked, “Does this car belong to you?” And the man said, “Yes. In fact my brother gave it to me for Christmas. I’ve just gotten it.” With that, the little boy’s eyes widened. He said, “You mean to say that somebody gave it to you? And you didn’t have to pay anything for it?” And the man said, “That’s right. My brother gave it to me as a gift.” With that the little boy let out a long sigh and said, “Boy, I would really like…” And the man fully expected the boy to say, “I would like to have a brother like that, who would give me such a beautiful car,” but instead the man was amazed when the little boy said, “Wow! I would like to be that kind of brother. I wish I could give that kind of car to my little brother.” Somehow that child understood the secret of the “new commandment” of love, which Jesus gave to his apostles during his last discourse, as described in today’s gospel: “Love one another as I have loved you.” True love consists, not in “getting” something from others, but in “giving” something to others.
Love is the main characteristic of Christianity, based on Jesus Commandment (John 13:34). And Jesus himself goes further to let us know that by this love would people know us to be true Christians (John 13:35). Pam 133 buttresses this when it says “how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity.”
The basis for Christian love is Jesus self-giving, by offering himself to death to undo the consequences of our sins. His Commandment to love therefore, implies that we too as his followers must be ready to make sacrifices for others. That is, always putting the needs of others first before our own needs. This is the way we can make Christ present to our neighbours at all times.
This selfless love is what we see in the life of Paul and Barnabas in the second reading of today. They were neither discouraged by the physical absence of Christ nor the persecution and the rejection they suffered in their first missionary journey. But in love they persevered and preached the gospel to several nations and cities. On their return to Antioch, they declared how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles (Cf. Acts 14:27).
Beloved in Christ, the word of God today calls us to a new way of evangelization, and this new way is THE WAY OF LOVE. Through our actions, out identity as Christians should be easily confirmed.
In this year of Mercy, God is opening the door of Mercy to many still, and we are called to be the door through which many would come to Salvation. We can only do this effectively by living in such a way that through us purple begin to have a glimpse of the ‘New Life’ that God is offering humanity.
*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*