Fifth Sunday of Easter Year C
Readings: Acts 14:21-27; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33,34-35
The resurrection brings a certain freshness and vitality in living the commandment of love. That sentence sums up the good news proclaimed this Sunday. All three readings speak about the newness of life brought about by the resurrection of Jesus Christ and celebrated by the Church during the Easter Season. The readings are therefore in tune with the freshness of this season. Practically every parish around the world experiences the joy and wonder of receiving new members into the faith through Baptism at Easter. Such an experience gives newness to the parish life, as the community welcomes new members and accompanies them on their journey of faith. In the first reading from the Acts of the Apostles, Paul and Barnabas after their first missionary journey, give an account to the Church in Antioch of all that God had done with them, and how God had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles. Through their pastoral visits, Paul and Barnabas had put fresh life into the hearts of the newly baptized. But Paul is quick to remind members of the local Christian communities that they would have to suffer before entering the Kingdom of God.
The farewell discourse of Jesus in the Gospel, brings newness and a challenge. “I give you a new commandment: love one another; as I have loved you, so you should love one another”. That sounds simple and straight forward until we begin to realize what Jesus is really asking us to do. In this passage, Jesus challenges us to live the new commandment, which implies the demand to follow his example – “as I have loved you”. That is the mark of a true, genuine disciple. Being Christian is not about knowing the faith or knowing what the catechism says. It is first and foremost about relationship with Jesus and with one another. Jesus expects us in this parish to love each other. He did not ask his disciples to “like” each other! That would be very easy. Loving each other is much more demanding. It is the test by which you and I will be judged by the world around us. “This is how all will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.” Such a love makes us more credible, more effective instruments of God’s transforming action that brings about a new heaven and a new earth that John speaks about in the Book of Revelation. If we are credible witnesses, others will want to become Christian. Mahatma Gandhi was once asked why he did not want to become Christian. He said: “I like your Christ; I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ." So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Our love for one another makes us more credible, more effective instruments of God’s transforming action; 2) If we truly love one another, then we will be able to convince others to join us, and God will then make his dwelling among us; 3) Love for one another is the key to bringing about a new heaven and a new earth prophesied in the second reading; it is the key to wiping away all tears from those who suffer, and removing pain and death from our midst.
.©2013 John S. Mbinda