Homily for 5th Sunday of Easter Year C. 19-05-2019 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Acts 14:21-27
Psalm: Psalm 145:8-9. 10-11. 12-13
Second Reading: Revelation 21:1-5
Gospel: John 13:31-33. 34-35
At the inauguration of the missionary enterprise of Christ’s disciples in Matthew 10:5-7, when He called and sent out the twelve on mission, He commanded them saying; ‘Go nowhere among the Gentiles, and enter no town of the Samaritans, but go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. As you go, proclaim the good news, The kingdom of heaven has come near.’ He gave this command because His first priority was to fulfil the Messianic and redemptive promises to His kin the Jewish people. The twelve went out doing this, but were however met with stiff opposition and rejection from the Jews. And because of this, they expanded the frontiers of their mission by turning to the non-Jewish peoples, the Gentiles, and they recorded huge success; founding many Churches headed by the Gentiles. This was the new reality God was doing in their lives, by opening the door of faith to the Gentiles whom they hitherto thought to be excluded from the plan of God’s salvation. Paul and Barnabas were witnesses to this, having toured through the different Churches they founded among the Gentiles, even came to the Gentile territory of Antioch where they were for the first time called Christians.
God is always wont to do new things in our lives just as He did in the lives of the early disciples, making them know that indeed “God’s salvation has been sent to the Gentiles, and they will listen” (Acts 28:28). The Jewish people who were the first priority, rejected the message of the good news, and when the disciples turned to the Gentiles, they were amazed that the Gentiles embraced the good news of Christ with all their heart. This was a new and an unexpected turn in their missionary work. God is the reason for this new turn because it came about as a result of the new commandment He gave to His apostles in the gospel reading today – love one another as I have loved you. By this new commandment, there came about a new relationship with God, not based by blood and kin as applied to the Jews, but by faith as expressed through the observance of the new commandment of love. Through this new commandment, there was to be a new relationship with God and a new relationship with one another. This way of life was what attracted the Gentiles to this new religion.
Truly, love brings about newness of life and purpose. Among married couples, it is the expression of the love between the husband and the wife that brings about the new life of the infants who are being conceived and born to them. Jesus talking about His hour of glorification five times in today’s gospel reading still relates to love. Even this hour of glorification was only brought to fruition because of love. He loved us to the point of giving up His life for us, which incidentally became the hour of His glorification when He gained victory for us through His death on the cross. His death transformed us from mere mortals to become adopted sons and daughters of God who are co-heirs with Christ and can partake of eternal life. This new commandment of love is also what would bring about our transformation that will ultimately lead to our glorification in John’s vision of the ‘the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.’ This is when God shall dwell with us, and we shall be His people. He shall wipe away every tear from our eyes, and death shall be no more, nor mourning, nor crying nor pain; old things shall pass away and He shall make all things new.
Some of us looking at our life experiences, feel less of ourselves may be because of our failures and past sins, and we begin to think that we are good for nothing. We struggle with different inclinations and addictions as parents, as spouses, as children, as students. We want to be the best Dad or Mom, yet we are still failing. We want to be the perfect and faithful spouse to our partner and we ask God, please Lord, keep me faithful, yet we find ourselves messing up. We want to as young people, always make good choices, feel among and be accepted by the in-crowd, yet we find ourselves more attracted to bad influence. In all we see ourselves as failures because we are not where we want to be in our relationship with God and with one another. But you know what? We are still the sons and daughters of God. He still loves us and cares for us, not despising us but constantly coming after us to meet us where we are to do a new thing in our lives. So do not give up on the good efforts you are making. If you are a Dad or Mom here, still wondering whether you are a good parent to your children, and capable of creating a good home, remember that God makes all things new and good. He isn’t done with you yet…He is going to do a new thing in your life because you are special to Him. Only keep this new commandment of love that renews our relationship with Him, and makes us to live this relationship in the way we treat others around us. Today we must pray, thank you Lord for making all things new in my life. Lord help me to do a new thing in the life of others too by loving them the way you have loved me. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.