YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 3RD SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: MYSTERY OF LOVE
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: The Paschal Feast is fundamentally a celebration of the mystery of love in which we recognise the most concrete manifestation of God’s love in the History of Salvation. God, Who out of His great love created us, redeemed us in Christ out of His infinite love. It is only through love can we truly be ministers and recipients of this mystery of love. May we open our hearts to be filled with the love of God as to be redeemed by the merits of the mystery of love we celebrate; Amen.
The proper response to love is love. Hence, it was truly right and just, that during one of the appearances of the resurrected Lord to His Apostles as we read in the Gospel Reading (John 21:1-19), that Jesus requested from Peter a personal profession of love for Him; for only in love can Peter properly and faithfully carry out the Petrine Ministry which Jesus Christ entrusted to him. This rule and obligation of love for Christ and His mission is mandatory for anybody who collaborates with Saint Peter for the feeding of and for looking after the lambs and sheep of God. In asking Peter directly, Jesus was also referring to all of His apostles and disciples and all who would come to believe in His name. First and foremost from the Pope, who is the personal successor of Saint Peter and also from bishops who are collegial successors of the college of Apostles and from priests and deacons who are closest collaborators of the bishops in the apostolic ministry. Of course also, from religious men and women and catechists and parents; and indeed from all the baptised who are called to witness to God in their various states in life. Without the love of God, nobody can truly serve God and without being poised by this same love, nobody can faithfully and fruitfully discharge the proper ministry to which God has called him or her.
This fidelity to the mission of Christ was very must exemplified in the witnessing of Saint Peter and the other apostles before the Court of the High Priest as we heard in the First Reading (Acts 5:27-32, 40-41). Peter was bold and clear in declaring the truth that “obedience to God comes before obedience to men.” Peter’s obedience to God was the very fact of his feeding and nurturing of the lambs and sheep of Christ through his preaching of the truth of the resurrection and of the salvation in Christ. Peter’s profession of love was put into concrete action even in a very precarious and delicate situation. In love, Peter and the rest of the apostles were faithful to the demand of Christ from them to feed and look after His sheep and flock, because the love we have for God moves us to obey Him even in the most difficult circumstances. In the same love, they were greatly fruitful and we all are part of the fruits they bore. Our own fruitfulness must be borne out of fidelity and obedience to Christ both of which spring from His love within us. It is only through this that we can join the company of the angels and saints and the entire host of heaven, like Saint Peter, in singing in unison the hymn to the victorious One recaptured in the Second Reading (Rev 5:11-14) “to the One who is sitting on the throne and to the Lamb, be all praise, honour, glory and power, forever and ever.” Belonging to this multitude of the saved is our prerogative and proper lot prepared for us from time immemorial. This is only possible when, moved by the love of God and the love for God at work within us, we are able to remain faithful as to be fruitful in the Paschal Mysteries we are celebrating.
Heavenly Father, like the apostle Peter, we profess our love for you. May the power of this love at work within us bring us to be faithful and fruitful in the mission of Christ entrusted to your Church and to her sons and daughters; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE