Homily (Reflection) for the Seventh Sunday of Easter (B) (13th May, 2018) on the Gospel
Acts 1:15-17.20-26;Ps 102:1-2.11-12.19-20 (R. V. 19);
Probably, you have heard about the football competition among different denominations. Every denomination came in good numbers to cheer their team up. And among the spectators was Jesus. The Catholic team was the first to gain the upper hand in the match; Jesus happily hailed and urged them to forge ahead. At a point, the Anglican team was leading. Surprisingly, the same Jesus hailed the Anglican team and encouraged them to do even more. In fact, no team in that competition lacked the support of Jesus whenever it was doing well.
One of the spectators who was very keen observing Jesus, in his confusion mustered courage and went to Him and asked: “Sir, I have noticed that no team lacked your support whenever it is doing well. Please, where do you belong?” Jesus looked at him with eyes full of love and said to him: I support my children? “Your children?” retorted the man. “Who are your children – Catholics or Anglicans, etc because you supported every team that performed well?”
Topic: We all are Children of God.
Today’s gospel forms part of Jesus’ prayer for His disciples. This has no parallel. The first verse reads in part: “... protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one” (Jn 17:11). In this prayer, Jesus expressed His desire for all His disciples to live like brothers and sisters. Recall that we are from one father and the same creator, cf. Mal 2:10.
John commented on the suggestion made by Caiaphas in these words: “...being the high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus was about to die for the nation, and not for the nation only, but to gather into one the dispersed children of God” (Jn 11:51-52). Hence, we know that Jesus died for all, cf. Rom 5:6.8; 1Cor 15:3; 2Cor 5: 14-15.
In the gospel according to Saint John, the main characteristic of a child of God is love, cf. Jn 13:35. In line with this, Saint Paul admonishes us “... to do good to one another and to all” (1Thess 5:15). And in his letter to the Romans, Saint Paul also tells us what I prefer to term a healthy competition that ought to be found among the children of God: “love one another with brotherly affection; outdo one another in showing honour” (Rom 12:10). And again, in his first letter to the Corinthians he also admonishes, “Let all that you do be done in love” (1Cor 16:14). And anyone who could do great things but could not love is likened to “... a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal” (1Cor 13:1).
There are a number of qualities Christians should have:
As God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bear with one another and, if anyone has a complaint against another, forgive each other; just as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony” (Col 3:12-14; cf. 1Pt 4:8).
It is disheartening that today love is hardly found even in the smallest Christian communities. Yet, every one claims to be better than others irrespective of Saint Paul’s admonition that every Christian should always consider others better than him/herself, cf. Phil 2:3. The energy we dissipate today in arguing and looking for those who are better qualified to be children of God seems to be more than what is needed to live as children of God. We tend also to forget that it is out of love that the Father allowed us to be called children of God; and so we are, cf. 1Jn 3:1. It is no body’s right. It is a gift freely given by God Himself to whoever He chooses, cf. Acts 11:1-11. And “it is the Spirit himself bearing witness with our spirit that we are children of God” (Rom 8:16). Unlike what many would think or want it to be, in God there is neither partiality nor distinction, cf. Rom 2:11; 3:22.
My dear brothers and sisters, being a child of God goes beyond the boundaries we make. Borrowing the words of Saint John “Beloved, let us love one another; for love is of God, and he who loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love” (1Jn 4:7-8). And anyone who does not love others is a child of devil, cf. 1Jn 3:10. One’s love for God can be made manifest in the love for others, cf. 1Jn 4:20. God expects us to do good to everybody whether the beneficiary is a Christian or not, belongs to the same denomination or not, and at all times.
Have you ever imagined how it will be like when every child of God lives as God wants? One cannot but express his or her joy with the Psalmist: “... Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity!” (Ps 133:1). God is of peace and not confusion, cf. 1Cor 14:33.
Bible Reading: 1Pt 3:8 – 4:11; Acts 11:1-18; Rom 2:1-16; 1Cor 13:1-13.
Thought for today: What reigns in you as a child of God?
Let us pray: God, as we have received from you the gift of becoming your children, may we live as we should – Amen.
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