THEME: Invitation to a New World and to a New Way of Loving

BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie


Acts 14:21-27
Resp.Psalm 145:8-13
Apocalypse 21:1-5
John 13:31-35

1. The readings of this 5th Sunday of Easter invite us to newness on different levels. What makes Easter unique is that it is the birth of a new creation. The death of Jesus brought the old creation disfigured by sin and corruption to an end. His resurrection opened the reality of a new world.

2. This new creation comes directly from God, as the second reading from the Apocalypse says. The author makes it clear that the old world is gone. God has made everything new in the Risen Christ. All are thus invited to enter the new creation, which is a new heaven and a new earth.
The question, however, is: How does one enter? What is the entry visa?

3. Jesus answers the question in the Gospel text of John 13:31-35: one must embrace the new commandment, which is to love as Jesus loved. Two important things to note in the words of Jesus here are:

First, Jesus will no longer be physically present in the community. It is only by loving one another that his presence will be felt and people will recognze the community as the community of Jesus. This means that a Christian community without mutual love is an aberration.

The second point to note is that loving one another is good but not a new commandment. It has been there in the Old law – in the Old Testament. It is practised in many religions and cultures. What is new is loving as Jesus loved. This is the great challenge. It means giving one’s life for the ones loved. It is sacrificial love. Only such type of love is worth the tag of new commandment. It is the type of love that can change the contempirary world and society. It is the type of love that can bring about the realisation of the new heaven and new earth. It is a love that suffers for the sake of others even to giving one’s life.

4. This is what the first reading from Acts 14:21-27 means when it says that we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the Kingdom of God. Such hardships are the obstacles we encounter on the way as we struggle to love others even when they hate us and do all sorts of things to harm us. Living the Christian life in today’s society implies having to endure many things out of love. Without such love, we will always be quarrelling and struggling to assert and claim our rights. Loving as Jesus loved means being at the service of others and working for their welfare even to our own detriment. It means forgiving injury even when we appear to be cowards in the eyes of onlookers. Loving as Jesus loved means strong determination and resilience to keep struggling to remain good and kind even when the reward is scorn and ridicule. It means standing for the truth, for the oppressed and for the good of the society and community even when the ultimate consequence is persecution and death.

5. Yes, loving one another as Jesus loved us is not easy, and that is why it is a new commandment. It is the entry qualification for the new world. All who love as Jesus loved are already in the new world, where there is joy and life in abundance, but all who refuse to love remain in the darkness and gloom of the old world, where life is made brutish and short by hatred, violence, mourning and sadness. There is no doubt that most of our communities are still very far from the practice of the new commandment of mutual love. That is why wickedness and violence litter our existential space.

May God give everyone of us a renewed heart and mind so that we may work in love and grow in love for one another!

Fr. Luke Ijezie

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