HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: A NEW COMMANDMENT I GIVE YOU…
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 15 2022
*Act 14 : 21 – 27, Rev 21 : 1 – 5, Jn 13 : 31 – 33.
The liturgical readings of today are replete with a retinue of new things; The 1st reading speaks about a new Christian community energized by a fresh heart full of perseverance in hardships with a new door opened to the pagans.
The 2nd reading speaks of a new Jerusalem; a new world order, the holy city where God makes his home among his people and makes his Word incarnate in their hearts.
The gospel reading speaks of a new commandment of love with a new understanding of both the motive and the measure of love far different from what we had in the Old Testament.
Jesus is the New Moses – like Moses, He created a new exodus from the slavery of sin into the freedom of righteousness. He created a new covenant seiled by his blood and a new agreement between God and us. We need no longer follow the tedious innumerable laws of Moses in order to be saved. Rather, we are saved by believing in the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the Cross of Calvary. He created a new concept of the commandment; The old commandments got corrupted by the traditions and extemporizations of the Pharisees and the Scribes. But the new commandment which Jesus gave is not only new but is also eternal and shall always remain new.
To love one another is not a new commandment. The old commandment says: ‘Love your neighbour as yourself’, Lev 19 : 18. But the new commandment says: ‘Love your neighbour as I have loved you’, Jn 13 : 35. The motive and the measure of this love is what is new. And this is what we need to understand in today’s homily.
B. A NEW JERUSALEM
Christianity will be the most monumental fraud if after all these sacrifices, toils and tribulations and the shedding of the blood of martyrs and saints, and there is no future life hereafter. St Paul said: ‘If there is no resurrection; if our hope in Christ is for this life, we will be the most pitiable of all people’, 1 Cor 15 : 19. That’s why Jesus assured us in unmistakable terms: ‘Let not your hearts be troubled, believe in God, believe also in me for in my father’s house there are many rooms. If it were not so, I would have told you’, Jn 14 : 1 – 3.
The message of today’s 2nd reading therefore is a revelation about the new heavens and the new earth where the righteousness of God will be at home among men – a revelation that is both eschatological and ecclesiological – the new heaven will both be realized in future and here on earth through the Church.
C. THE PROBLEM OF ECHO SPIRITUALITY
Echo, in Physics, is a natural law of sound rebound. In spirituality, it is the law of loving someone according as he/ she loves you. Can you immediately see how dangerously this contradicts Christ’s precepts? Loving someone with the measure of your own love is as dangerous as loving someone with the measure of his/ her own love for you. In both cases, there is bound to be frustration and disappointment because ‘frail creatures are we all, as Shakespeare will say, ‘and to be the best is but with the fewest faults’.
In this era when so many people hate themselves to the point of suicide; In this era when people suffer all kinds of psycho spiritual disorders mostly caused by depression, how do we expect them to love others with that kind of distorted barometer of measurement? (The Social media is replete with so many cases of suicide in very recent past among Youths. There is even a Facebook group account for Suicide candidates now).
In this era when so many people are selfish and carnal; when so many people tend to love (or like) others just because of what they can gain later from that person, the whole concept of love has become as elusive as unveiling the bark of an onion. So many Youths have ‘fallen in love’ from a distance and went ahead and proposed marriage only to ‘fall out of love’ as soon as they got close and propose divorce.
I think this is why Jesus has decided to place his own love for us, in today’s gospel, as a new paradigm of love; with a new motive and a new measure of love by dying on the Cross for the whole of mankind. This becomes the only motive of AGAPE LOVE.
While Agape love is unconditional love, every other kind of love (both Eros and even Filial love) is conditional. Echo spirituality is reactionary spirituality; a spirituality that teaches a kind of love that comes only as a rebound/ ripple effect from another’s own overtures.
*For instance, I sent someone a house help from my Parish and when I pleaded with her to take good care of the girl she replied: ‘If she behaves well I will do anything for her’. I quickly said ‘No…don’t wait for her to behave well first…Show her unconditional love first and you will see that she is very likely to behave well’.
St Paul said it all when he reminded us that ‘Christ died for us when we were still sinners’, Rom 5 : 8. John Rose says: ‘He does not love us because we are Saints. He does not measure out His love according to our goodness. Because His love is gratuitous, He calls us to live gratuitously’.
D. A NEW IDENTITY CARD FOR CHRISTIANS
Christians must be known and recognized wherever they are by their love, not by their claims. Christ said: ‘By this all men will know that you are my disciples if you love one another as I have loved you’. And I think it was Mahatma Ghandi of India that said: ‘If you Christians love the way the Bible says you should love, you’d convert the whole India in 5 years’.
Christ’s teachings have brought us a new dispensation of discipline that has to do with selfless love. This translates into a new dispensation of leadership that will have the leader – servant paradigm and a new dispensation of love that Pope St John Paul II calls ‘the new civilization of love’.
It is not fire, nor flood, nor earthquakes, nor any form of natural disasters that may destroy the world again; and God himself will not have a hand in the world’s imminent demise. I think what may destroy this world is SELFISHNESS.
Just look at Nigeria and see how selfishness is already destroying Nigeria; With all the special endowments God has given us; wonderful human and natural resources BUT see how selfishness makes us select the worst human beings to lead us, put the worst intellectuals to teach our children from tertiary down to nursery level, select the worst students for admission into our tertiary institutions.
The effect is that examination malpractice (Expo) is spreading all over our schools like a malignant cankerworm, shutting down the brain power of our students. Our generation has one option before it is too late; either to reverse the gear of our emphasis back to the teachings of Christ on selfless love or face the gradual destruction of our society by selfishness, suicide, terrorism, kidnap, election malpractice and all the bad things we see today. We pray for our party delegates as they exercise their franchise as our last hope for the emergence of a good leader in Nigeria. Happy Sunday dear friends!