HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
BY: Fr Livinus C. Igbodekwe
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 29 2022
What in the world would carry much excitement among believers than to know that The Lord is coming? I think that no other report of glad tiding would excite us more than that. Anyway, who among you, in this congregation, sincerely wants the Lord to come today?
That is what the Aramaic phrase “Maranatha” portends. It has been translated in various ways to mean the coming of the Lord but differing in the verbal usage. In some texts, it means, “The Lord has come!”, in some, “The Lord is coming,” still in some, “Our Lord, Come!”
How many of us have had occasion of preparing to welcome an important person to your house? It got to involve a lot of checks and keepings. Sometimes, you check out on a thing or place many times just to make sure it is in top shape before the visitor arrives. What is more? What if the visitor doesn’t inform you on when he/she is coming? That will take even more stress. This is our case as Christians!
Our Lord Jesus Christ came into the world to reveal the Father to us. He did that through His words and works. He painted the picture of the Father so wonderfully that Philip requested Him to show them the Father and that would satisfy them. The will of the Father is to form “Christ” in us. And unless we become “Christs” we will not be one with Him. For the Bible says that if anyone has not the spirit of Christ, such one has no part in Him (Rom 8:9).
That is why Jesus is praying in John 17, that the Father may make them one just as He and the Father are one. How can we become one with the Father if we don’t first of all become “Christ” who is the way to the Father. Therefore, we must wash our garments clean and keep our hearts pure so as to find access to the mystical unity for which Christ prays.
So, “maranatha” must be the ‘in talk’ among Christians just as it was among the early believers. St Paul makes it a domestic phrase within the Corinthian Church that he ended his epistle with the exhortation, “If anyone does not love the Lord, let him be anathema. Maranatha (1 Cor 16:22).
St Titus (2:13) says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” And St John 1 Jn 3:2 says, “Beloved, now we are the sons of God, and it does not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.” And finally, the Apostle John, after seeing a great mystery about “What is to come” and what will be the great reward of the saints in Christ: the access not only to the gates but to the Tree of life, and the Water of Life, was full of great excitement that he ended his testimony of the Revelations by saying, ” Even so, Maranatha!”
What really inspired the early believers to count the earthly goods as nothing was because of “Maranatha” expectation of the surpassing reward of heaven. St Stephen was stoned to death by furious mob, who found it fun to kill him that they removed their garments, placing them at the feet of Saul of Tarsus. Yet, it was as if Stephen was not feeling a pain. His face was radiating in hope that it was said that his visage changed into that of an angel. He still had time to pray for their pardon. But most touching is that His eyes opened into eternity. He saw Jesus standing at God’s right hand (Acts 7:55). This is the only place Jesus is seen in that posture in the whole Bible. Why standing and not sitting? Because Jesus is coming to welcome Stephen with open arms. Halleluia! The killers were busy sweating it out, stoning him, while Stephen was busy enjoying a beatific vision. Full of the Holy Spirit, he saw an open heaven. God is really a rewarder!
In Church’s History, why did many a martyr submit themselves to the guillotines, gallows, fires, swords, beasts, etc? The answer is simple. It is because of “Maranatha” expectation. Two ways they found to be with the Lord – either by His imminent coming or by submitting to martyrdom.
They qualified to be the “bride” of Christ, pure and without wrinkles. Let us all continue to actively and patiently wait as a farmer waits for the former and latter rain (James 5:7), by remaining pure before the Lord in all things.
The Spirit and the Bride say, “Maranatha! Come Lord Jesus!”