From the pastor’s desk
Fifth Sunday of Easter – Year C– “… love one another. As I have loved you, so you also should love one another (John 13:34).”
Our liturgy offers us the opportunity today to examine and re-examine our discipleship. Many times we identify ourselves as Christians knowing that we have been baptized and confirmed, and we go to church on Sundays and say the simple prayers– Our Father, Hail Mary and others. But being Christian is much more. It means that we have to live out our baptismal vows and promises: rejection of Satan, Sin and Death. We have to live in imitation of Christ and replicate with our lives his life, death and resurrection.
In our contemporary society, people mean different things when it comes to the word: “love.” But today, Jesus is very specific with his new commandment of love. He tells us to love one another as he has loved
- This is the only criteria through which all will come to recognize his disciples.
How has Jesus loved us? Having received and benefitted from his love, how can we live it out in our relationship with the Father and in our dealings with our fellow human beings? How can we transform the world in which we live with this new commandment of love ? In the first place, Jesus has shown two- fold love for the Father and humanity. In his love for the Father, in total obedience and submission to His Will, he has come on mission of salvation. By this, he freely and willingly chose to die for the sinful humanity in order to save the world. The sinless One has accepted to die for the guilty so that by his death, death itself will be destroyed and by his resurrection, he might offer us eternal life. This is the fulfillment of God’s promises in all the Scriptures, all through our salvation history. Jesus has loved us-humans, by taking upon himself our guilt. He put himself in our place to die for our sins that we might live. He offers us his Spirit and grace that we might turn away from sin and live for him as members of his Body, the Church. He suffered every punishment we deserved in order to prove his undivided obedience and love for the Father and his unalloyed love for us. That is why when Judas Iscariot who betrayed him left the Cenacle, Jesus declared that moment as the hour of the glorification of the Son of Man, in which he will be with his apostles not much longer. He declared it as the time in which the Father will in turn glorify him.
Judas’ departure from the Cenacle leaves the scene open for the momentous events of Jesus’ betrayal, arrest, trial, Passion, crucifixion, death and burial. Through these, the Father will raise up again in glory
His Son, Jesus, who has been faithful to Him. Knowing these, Jesus gives us his farewell discourse, bequeathing us his commandment of love as a rule of life for us to imitate at all times. Through this rule, we are called to live as Jesus has done, to act like Jesus, to love like Jesus, to be obedient to the Will of God like Jesus, to make sacrifices like Jesus, to die like Jesus. In this way, we will become his disciples who live out our baptismal life, vows and promises. Through this, we work for the salvation of souls, the transformation of our society and the sanctification of our world. This is the mandate Jesus gave to his apostles which led Paul and Barnabas to go on their missionary journeys amidst all kinds of persecutions, namely: stoning, imprisonments, ship-wrecks, floggings, hunger, thirst, and all kinds of missionary difficulties. They weathered so many hardships to bring the message of Christ’s love, life, death and resurrection to the nations for their salvation. That is why St. Paul retracing his steps every place he evangelized, appoints and ordains presbyters or priests for them and encourages them to persevere in the faith, that they must undergo many trials in order to enter the reign of God. We, too must engage in the missionary efforts like the apostles to make all things new in Christ.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD