Sunday readings in brief 5 Easter C
Acts 14:21-27; Ps 144 (145), Ap 21:1-5; Jh 13:31-33,34-35
The New Look
Dear friends, today is the fifth Sunday of Easter. We have three more weeks left in this season where we celebrate the gift of salvation that God has given us in Christ Jesus. However, every Sunday is Easter Sunday, whereby we relive the mystery of our salvation. Today’s readings invite us to reflect upon the concept of “new”, and new things have something that attracts us though after coming into close contact with them, not everyone appreciates them. This is because “new” involves change and transformation and not everyone wants to change or transform. The concept of renewal and renovation is a common one among all cultures. When things become old and ugly, we renovate to give them a “New look”.
The Kingdom of God that Jesus preached was something new to the people of his time. Heralded by John the Baptist, everyone braced for it and was anxious to know what they needed to do to form part of it. However, after getting to know the real content of the Kingdom, we are told, that many fell behind and no longer followed Jesus (Jh 6:66). They were afraid of changing their old ways and opted to stay away from Jesus.
In the first reading, the new thing is that God was opening the door of faith to the pagans through the work of Paul and Barnabas. This was something that many of the Jews converts found difficult to appreciate and it would bring confrontation that led to the first council of the disciples in Jerusalem (Acts 15). In our communities, we sometimes find it difficult to welcome new members who are not from our culture.
In the second reading, St. John talks about a new heaven and new earth that replaces the old ones. He says it was as beautiful as a bride dressed for her husband. This is where God lives with his people (Emmanuel). In this city, there will be no more tears for those who live in it. This is the Church where Christians love and console one another.
In the Gospel reading, Jesus gives to his disciples the only precepts that are required for all those who live in this new world, “Love one another as I have loved you”. It is not a world of traitors like Judas and probably this is why today’s Gospel starts with the phrase, “when Judas had gone Jesus said…”. Love is the greatest value that should visibly distinguish between those who belong to the city from those who do not.
When we were baptized, we were born to new life and became the children of God through Christ. The Church is the New Jerusalem and the new city where those who live in it must embrace its new ways of Love, peace, justice, tolerance, forgiveness, and hard work among others. It is contradictory that those who are born to the new world through baptism continue with their old ways. This can only happen when people enter the city unprepared or by making holes in its walls.
In my mission, I struggle with Polygamy, child marriage, discrimination against women, and other bad traditions among the baptized. This happen because there was insufficient or no instruction about Christian values at the time of their baptism. This example is replicated in other Christian Communities in different ways. We have many people baptized but who are still stuck in jealousy, hatred, negative competition, greed, selfishness, sloth, and many other evils. This prevents us from enjoying the climate of the new city.
Dear friends, today I invite us to reflect upon our ways as the citizens of the new city, the Church. As baptized persons, do we live the Christian values in such a way that attracts those who surround us or do we make them shake their heads in disgust at our conduct?
Have a blessed Sunday
Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD
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