HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER, YEAR C
REV. 21 : 1 -5a
JOHN 13 :31-33a, 34-35
THEME : LOVE – THE CHRISTIAN IDENTITY
Beloved in Christ, this morning the readings of today are reminding us of the challenge we face as Christians in communicating to the world our identity as Christians. This challenge more often than not comes from the lack of congruence between what we believe and what we do as Christians.
This situation reminds me of a story about Paul Gustave Dore, one of the world’s renowned artists , who once lost his passport while travelling in Europe and was only allowed to cross the border after he had successfully drawn a group of peasants standing nearby.
Beloved, though we are living in a world where so many people are claiming to be Christians how they live is a contradiction to the message of Jesus Christ. Consequently, to resolve this crisis, Jesus says our actions should conform to our faith. And it is only when we have been able to achieve this that we can win others to our Christian fold.
Beloved, effective evangelization is not about how fluently we speak but how faithfully we live the message of Jesus Christ. And this is what St. Francis of Assisi meant when he told his Friars to preach the gospel at all times and only use words if necessary.
Beloved, it is in helping us achieve this that Jesus Christ today talks to us about “new things “-namely, new Jerusalem, new heaven, new earth and a new commandment. And this is to achieve for us a renewal of our mind and heart dependent on a new understanding of love (cf. John 31 :34-35).
Beloved in Christ, it is for this reason that Jesus proposes to us a new understanding of love : which will not equate love of neighbors with love of one’s fellow Israelites, since love should be extended to all people without distinction. And also the fact that the ideal for this love should be to emulate the way Jesus loved us.
Beloved, we are therefore challenged to resolve to show in our actions the depth of our faith in God based on this new understanding of love so as to enable the world easily distinguish between the Christian and the non-Christian.