YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: THE NEW COMMANDMENT
BY: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
HOMILY: In loving we identify ourselves truly as the followers of Christ and by so doing join hands with Him in the consolidation of the reign of the Kingdom of God; in the building of a new heaven and a new earth, where His will is done. To love is to truly live! Not to love is to reject the various gifts of God to us and most seriously to reject God Himself Who is love. To reject God is to reject life for He is life. To be without life means to be dead, not just in its mortal form but also in eternity. This is never our wish and lot! May the love of God bring us to love and to live; Amen.
Our Lord Jesus Christ never missed any opportunity He had to teach everybody around Him about the distinguishing mark of those who would be His disciples. This we heard Him re-emphasis in the Gospel Reading of today (Jn 13:31-33, 34-35); “I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, by this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” One could also say that to be a Christian is to love. The type of love that is rooted in God and in turn ultimately leads back to God. This form of love excludes every form of selfishness. This love builds whereas selfishness destroys! To love and to be selfish can never go together. Nothing has ever renewed and built up the world more than love and nothing has destroyed the world much more than selfishness. When Saint John in his vision contained in the Second Reading of today (Rev 21:1-5) speaks of a new heaven and a new earth, he is referring to the renewal which the reign of the love in and through us brings about, for when love reigns, it is God Himself Who is reigning; ubi caritas et amor Deus ibi est – where Charity is, where love is selfless, God is there. In such a place “God lives among men. He will make His home among them; they shall be His people and He will be their God.”
To love and to live in love is never without opposition, the type of opposition which the earliest disciples of our Lord Jesus Christ faced as they witnessed to the faith. In the Second Reading (Acts 14:21-27) Paul and Barnabas encouraged the brethren to persevere and be firm in the faith for “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God.” The greatest opposition to the mission and reign of love in the world is selfishness; a situation where the love of the self which Christ commanded and God wills is replaced with a certain misguided understanding of the self as an entity that must be absolutized to the detriment of others; when the love of self that makes one selfless is misunderstood to be a centralization of the self that makes one see others as means to be utilized and exploited. It is basically for selfish reasons that rancours exist in our midst. For selfish reasons brothers and sisters refuse to understand each other and to live together. For selfish reasons couples betray each other and privately and publicly disdain the promises they made before God and His people. Moved by selfishness we sometimes make decisions without considering the consequences of our decisions on others. Selfishness remains the root of the desecration of life in the guise of abortion and choice and the other forms through which life is forceful and crudely blown out. What else but selfishness can account for the exploitation of poor and less-powerful nations by the powerful nations of the world? Suicide is a full blown fruit of selfishness. On the contrary, the power of love heals, builds and recreates. Faced with all of these challenges and oppositions, sometimes coming from the most sacred quarters, one could rightly say that we are passing through a moment of opposition of love. The truth remains that irrespective of how forcefully love is opposed, it will surely have the day because love is divine. Never be discouraged to love sincerely! Love may make you seem like a victim and vulnerable in the eyes of the opposition. Be calm and know that in being victims and vulnerable in the practice of love we become victorious and this is the very trap to win the opposition over to learn to love. Love as deeply as you can for through love we can heal the world.
Heavenly Father, You created us out of love and through love redeemed us in Christ and in the Holy Spirit. Teach us to love so as to live and reign with You in eternity; Amen.
Happy Sunday; Fr Cyril CCE