HOMILY FOR THE 6TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: THE MEASURE OF TRUE LOVE
BY: Fr. Arthur Ntembula
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 22 2022
(Acts 15:1-2.22-29, Revelation 21:10-14.22-23, John 14:23-29)
The first reading gives us grounds from which to develop our reflection for this Sunday. The background is that the Church was just growing when the issue of “who should become Christian” came up at Antioch, a largely gentile community. The question was “what they are required to do” for them to be admitted into the Christian community. This contention was due to the fact that, due to the works of the apostles, a lot of gentiles wanted to convert to Christianity. Now, as you may know, gentiles were not Jews, and since Christianity was born from Judaism, some apostles wanted gentiles to first be circumcised so that they become Jews before becoming Christian. Paul and his companion, Barnabas did not support this position. So the matter was taken to Jerusalem so that the council of the apostles could sit down to settle it. Sailas and Judas were then sent to Antioch with a letter affirming that gentiles needed to accept the Jewish culture for them to be baptised into Christianity. This didn’t settle well with the gentiles because they felt that the Jews were imposing a Jewish culture on them. Moreover, according to what Paul and Barnabas had earlier taught them, one did not have to become a Jew to be saved.
Jews were a community that cared very much about outward purification. Because of this, they had many rituals of purification for different functions. Even the issue of circumcision was bordering on ritual purification. As taught by Paul, God was more concerned about one’s heart than whether one was circumcised or not. And true enough, for God, what is important is the expression of faith made evident in works, rather than ‘circumcision.’ The religious rituals that we have do not make us pure if our hearts are far away from God. Paul taught the “circumcision of the heart.” This means that we need to be more concerned about the purity of our hearts, than our outward looks. While bathing is the purification of the body, love is the purification of the heart.
Jesus says that in the person that loves, he and the Father shall come and make a home. Abiding in Christ’s love means that we keep his word and translate it into actions. We can only serve God and create a place for Him in our hearts by the way we serve others in charity. A true Christian can only be known by how much they love. The heart is the seat of love, and how much we love says a lot about how near or far we are from God. Thus, purification of the heart means that we make the virtue of love to be the driving force of our life and of what we do. Christianity is not measured by what we do in the church and how we do it. It is rather determined by how much love we show to every member of the church, the community and society at large. Jesus was religious, and as custom required, he went to the synagogue to join his fellow Jews observing the religious practices. But he didn’t end there. He also went out into the compound to heal, feed others and be with those that the community had neglected for one reason or another. Going this extra mile is the measure of true love. Love is insufficient if it only ends in words, but is made complete when words are acted upon. We are not yet Christian until we love like Christ.
ENJOY YOUR LITURGY
Fr. Arthur Ntembula