Homily for III (3) SUNDAY of Easter Year B. 18-04-2021 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: Acts 3: 13-15, 17-19
Psalm: Psalm 4: 2, 4, 7-8, 9
Second Reading: 1 John 2:1-5
Gospel: Luke 24:35-48
Our readings open with a stunning reminder from St. Peter that we are all guilty of Christ’s death. First, that Christ came from the Jewish stock. Secondly, He was betrayed and falsely accused and killed, but then He rose from the dead because it was all according to God’s plan. What is interesting is that Peter himself has been a first-hand witness of not just Christ’s betrayal and death, but also His resurrection. He ends his admonition with a call to repentance. What does it mean to repent? To repent “metanoia” is to have an afterthought, not just to weep over our past sins and demonstrate sorrow and regret without a concrete change of heart and a turnaround to a new way and manner of living. When we have repented, we must change our ways, abandon our sinful past ways and adopt God’s system of values with His new and better ways. This is when the world and everything around us becomes different. We see things from a different angle, from the perspective of God. It is then that we can begin to look to the future with great hope, optimism and determination. But why is the call to repentance so important for us? It is important for us because by our baptism we have all been called by Christ and sent as His witnesses in to the world. And to be a true witness, we must abandon our past sinful ways of life without which we cannot be true witnesses. Christ reiterates the same call in the gospel reading as a reminder that our vocation as Christians is indeed a call to be His witnesses in the world. Are you ready to be Christ’s witness?
What does it mean to be a witness? A witness is one who is called to give a first-hand account of something seen, heard or experienced. In the ambit of law, when someone is called to be a witness in the law court, he or she swears to tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth. This is what we as Christians are called to do about Jesus. We are His witnesses and our duty is to give the true testimony that Jesus Christ is Lord and Saviour who came in the flesh, suffered, died and rose from the dead for our sake. He did this so that you and I may have life, and not just the physical life, but as He says, “life in abundance” (John 10:10). That is, to have also the spiritual life which is everlasting. As a witness of Christ, are you by your life telling the truth about Christ or falsehood?
When we look at the world today, we need not go far to realise how not only urgent but imperative it is for us to be Christ’s true witnesses. For as during the crucifixion of Christ, darkness covered the whole earth, so there is darkness in our hearts and in our places all over when we fail to bear witness to Christ. It means we today have also crucified Christ in our hearts. This means many of us today are yet to experience the liberating power of the resurrected Christ. Even with the high level of sophistication human knowledge has attained in our current century, the knowledge of God is still grossly scarce in the world. We may have built so many Churches, temples, synagogues, mosques and other worship centres almost in every part of the world. But the truth still remains that it is our bodies that are the real temples and the dwelling places of God (1 Cor. 6:19). So, failure to treat our bodies with conscience and respect for our human dignity conferred by God who made us in His own image and likeness, is a grave moral evil. If we decorate the buildings dedicated for worship and make them beautiful in honour of God but our ways are still depraved and evil, then it means our worship too is only a lip service, mere hypocrisy and an empty show. If we know how to paint our bodies, dress well and look good externally without an internal change of heart towards God’s ways, then our witnessing is an abomination to God.
Ask yourself today, what kind of worship are you giving to God? True worship or lip service?
Truly the world needs witnesses. You and I are the ones called to be these true witnesses and the world is waiting to hear and see our testimony. What kind of testimony are you giving to the world about Christ? Are you a true witness or a fake one? A true witness is that one who is ready to testify not only by words of mouth but also by the example of his life. Such is the person who eschews sin and faithfully keeps the commandments of God everywhere he finds himself. By living a holy and righteous life, we bear authentic witness to God in the most august way akin to Christ who was man like us in all things except sin. This means we are also courageous at all times to stand up for what is right and true, just and moral, and condemn whatever is wrong and false, unjust and immoral. It is only then that we are being true to our vocation as witnesses to Christ in the world. Are you a true witness of Christ or a fake one? May the Lord give us the grace to be true witnesses of Christ in the world of today in word and deed, so that we may transform the world and lead others also to eternal life. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.