Peace and Justice are kin

Sunday readings in brief 6 Easter C

Acts 15:1-2,22-29; Ps 66 (67); Ap 21:10-14,22-23; Jn 14:23-29

Peace and Justice are kin

Dear friends today is the sixth Sunday of Easter. In three weeks, we will celebrate the Birthday of the Church – the Pentecost and conclude this Easter season. Today Jesus begins his farewell speeches to his disciples as he prepares for his ascension to the Father. Jesus had been with them a long time and had taught them many things concerning the Kingdom of God. However, there remained only one test for them, the test of love.

As we read some time ago in chapter six of the Gospel of St. John, not everyone was following Jesus because of their teachings. Some had a wrong understanding of who he was and what his mission was. Jesus fed the crowd with physical bread as a visible sign of the living bread of his body and blood that he was preparing to give them. However, some followed him because he the bread for their stomach and were not ready to hear anything beyond.

Today he is telling those who stayed with him to the end that the only way to demonstrate their love to him is by keeping his word. Keeping someone’s word means faithfully adhering to his or her instructions. The word of Jesus was not only his but also the Father’s word and this is what made the difference. Jesus put it clearly to his disciples and indeed all those who listened to him that he was not preaching his word but the word of one greater than him, his Father. He also demonstrated that he found tremendous peace in doing the will of his Father. The will of the father was that all be one in peace and that Justice may reign on earth (Lk 4:16-20).

Jesus came to plant the seed of peace in the world by preaching justice. There can only be peace when everyone feels treated justly. Peace cannot be realized as far as there are agitations among some members of any community. Communities with good governance and the rule of just laws are known to be peaceful. It is not enough to have powerful governments with the strong military capacity to have peace, what is needed is justice for all and peace will thrive.

In the first reading, we hear how agitation rose among the pagan converts to Christianity because some Jewish converts wanted to force their traditional practices on them. These Jewish converts thought that others needed to follow their traditions because Jesus preached to them first. They wanted to remain in their traditions and be Christians at the same time. When the matters escalated and threatened to destroy the community, Paul and Barnabas thought it wise to consult with the Apostles in Jerusalem. This led to the first meeting of the Apostles to discuss the matter and come up with a decision. It was very important to put things in order if the gospel was to be accepted by people of non-Jewish descent.

By its nature, the message of salvation does not have any permanent address but abodes everywhere it is welcome. In other words, I argue that the Gospel does not belong to any human culture but rather permeates every culture transforming it to be godly. The problem of communities losing faith and nations passing laws to drop religious adherence is because of conflict of interests between cultures. When the principle of any religion becomes discriminatory to others because they follow other traditions than the majority, then there will always be conflicts. In the second reading, St. John’s vision of the Holy City is a symbol of unity among the peoples from all corners of the world. The symbolic 12 gates represent all the tribes of the chosen nation of Israel and the 12 foundation stones represent the 12 apostles who became the pillars of the new universal nation redeemed by Christ.

Dear friends, the world is home to millions of living and non-living species of which human beings are part. We can only have peace if we learn and accept to accommodate others and share the gifts God has given us. I invite us today to reflect upon our attitude towards people who do not belong to my ethnic community, my country, or my racial background. You can rate yourself between 0 and 5, five being super accommodative and o being intolerant.

Have a blessed Sunday

Fr. Lawrence Muthee, SVD

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