HOMILY FOR FRIDAY OF 5TH WEEK OF EASTER.
THEME: GREATER LOVE HAS NO MAN THAN THIS…
BY: Benedict Agbo (Rev Fr)
*Act 15: 22-31, Jn 15: 12-17.
I wish the world can get to appreciate the Christian teachings on love even more now that our society is being ravaged by cultures of barbarism – cultures that promote violence and killing of human beings like cows. Just compare Christianity with other religions and you feel the difference. For love, Jesus left the company of angels in heaven and descended to earth and died on the Cross to save mankind. For hate, some others have left their communities and invaded other communities to kill them for their own selfish interests.
As I hear Jesus say in today’s gospel: ‘Greater love has no man than this, that a man should lay down his life for his friends’, I almost hear myself replaying its retrograde inversion form: ‘Smaller love has no man than this, that a man should go seeking the life of his enemies’. Jesus’ love is a pattern for the world to see. We are called to love not as anyone else has done but as Christ loved us. His love is both a pattern, motive and measure for Christian love.
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The early Christians after the first conflict between the Jewish and Gentile believers had to underline the following three sins as completely intolerable to the Christian religion: Idolatry (which encourages occultic ways of killing people), Blood shedding /violence of all forms and Immorality (which most times result in abortions /killing of innocent children, infectious diseases that kill innocent lovers and heart breaks that ruin families). Idolatry is the greatest sin against God; Murder is the greatest sin against our neighbour while immorality (eg adultery) is the greatest sin against the human society since it disrupts family peace and renders the society lawless. Perhaps, this is why the first Christian Council at Jerusalem said authoritatively as we find in today’s first reading, that ‘It has pleased the Holy Spirit and us’ to lay upon you no greater moral burdens than these grand essentials; avoid idolatry, shedding of blood and immorality. That is why it baffles me today that some civilized States still permit some religions that promote mass killing and all forms of immorality and barbarism.
May Christian evangelization continue to grow in Nigeria. The extremist Muslims and other primitive cultures that encourage violence need to hear the beautiful gospel of Christ. I have not seized to wonder, reading the life of Mohammed, why people choose to follow him in this modern day – a man that had no single record or pedigree of holiness but of forceful religious conquest and Immorality. Every religion or tribal group that encourages violence and shedding of human blood directly or indirectly is not a religion but a secret cult. Sound governments must come after them or else we revert back to the Hobbesian Original State of nature ‘where life is cruel, nasty, brutish and short’.
Jesus advises Christians to ‘love one another as I have loved you”. His love is both a pattern, motive and measure for Christian love. He said ‘Greater love has no man than this that a man should lay down his life for his friends’. The endpoint of Christianity is friendship with God and neighbour. Christ triumphantly announces to his disciples in today’s gospel; ‘I have called you friends…’ No more enmity, rivalry, quarrels, selfishness, insincerity, etc. I wish Christians can come to this level of maturity. Pope John Paul II calls it ‘the new civilization of love’ where Christians can bear good fruits and be able to evangelize all other primitive religions around us. May God bless you today!
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