Homily for 6th Sunday of Easter Year C. 2019 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Acts 15:1-2, 22-29
Psalm: Psalm 67:2-3. 5.5.6 and 8
Second Reading: Revelation 21:10-14. 22-23
Gospel: John 14:23-2
As we get to the sixth Sunday of Easter today, the tone of our readings connote that Jesus’ departure is imminent, hence on Thursday we shall celebrate the Solemnity of Ascension to mark the moment when Christ bodily departed from the earth to return back to His Father in heaven. The gospel pericope set before us today is part of the long speech that Jesus gave at the Last Supper after the Washing of the Feet which contains the very heart of His teaching – love of God and neighbour. He makes us to understand that without love, we cannot even do His will, and His will is that of He who sent Him.
Alluding to the fact that He will soon be gone from them, Jesus promises the Apostles that the Father will send His Holy Spirit to be their advocate and guide. He promises that the Holy Spirit will remind them of His teaching. This is what He expresses when He says ‘But the Counsellor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.’ Clearly, all of us Catholics are not oblivious of this because we know and understand that it is the Holy Spirit that continues to keep the Church free from fundamental error, sustaining her up to this day and moment. That is why we realise that from the teachings of Jesus, the teaching of the Church is birthed and it grows and develops over time, but it is the Holy Spirit who keeps us in direct continuity with the teaching of Jesus. There is no room for innovative doctrine; what the Church strives for is fidelity to the original teaching of Jesus even if this is uncomfortable or out of sync with what public opinion thinks is true and important.
More so, if the Holy Spirit is to be sent by the Father in the name of the Son, then Christ is also teaching us the theology of the Trinity and the dynamic at work within it. It means that the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit are absolutely united as One, and the driving force within the Trinity is love. This force which also overflowed into the act of creation is the force that holds everything in being. That is why love is the highest of all goals, the greatest of all the theological virtues and should be treasured above all things. Because it is with love that comes unity and when there is unity, then peace is inevitable. So it is not strange that Christ commanded love before He bequeathed peace to His disciples. This command of love was kept faithfully by the early disciples until the controversy that necessitated the first council of the Church at Jerusalem which is contained in our first reading of today. Whether it was circumcision that could guarantee salvation for the Gentiles or faith in Jesus Christ. Some of the Jews insisted that all non-Jews must first be circumcised before they can become Christians. However, true to the words of Christ in the gospel reading of sending the Holy Spirit to teach His disciples all things and remind them of all His teachings, the apostles enlightened by this same Spirit of truth were able to resolve this controversy by uniting both Jews and Gentiles into one body of Christianity. And by so doing, believing Jews remained Jews but at the same time Christians, while Gentiles remained Gentiles but at the same time still Christians as long as they all did what was right before Christ.
So salvation is for all who do the will of God, and it is not limited by colour, race, tribe, or location. This is why in John’s vision in our second reading from apocalypse, he sees Jerusalem coming down out of heaven with twelve gates spread on four sides standing for the four cardinal points; south, north, east and west, which symbolize universality. So, the beautiful city of Jerusalem is open to all peoples over all the earth and God’s salvation is for all nations. So ask yourself, if God who creates us all is open to accepting us all into His kingdom, why should I pose a hindrance when I accept some people and reject some? Do I discriminate against people who are not of my race, tribe, religion, or people who are foreigners? We must therefore not be people who discriminate or create dissensions and divisions in the house of God. God has created us in love and Christ commands us to live out that love as reflections of Himself in the world. Therefore, when we love, we reflect the true image and likeness of God which we are. But when we fail to love, we cannot be true reflections of the image and likeness of God which we are created to be. May the Lord help us to love all truly as He has commanded us, so that His Holy Spirit can take root in us and work in us to accomplish His plans and purposes in our lives and the lives of those around us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.