Friday, April 26, 2013

Homily 5th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo

Homily 5th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo
Readings Acts 14:21-27; Ps 145:8-13; Rev 21:1-5a and John 13:31-33a, 34-35

The Porta Fidei (Acts 14:27)

On this fifth Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the Love of Christ. And this love of Christ, in the light of today’s readings, particularly the first reading, is the entrance, the door that leads to faith, porta fidei, that Paul talks about in the first reading, Acts of the Apostles 14:27. Consider yourself coming into this church, into this chapel; you came in through that door. There might be other doors, here and there. Our Christian faith is like our journey into this church, having to pass through those doors. Christ's love, or love for Christ is truly that important door of faith that leads us to Christ, to our destination, which is eternal life. Caritas Christi urget nos- the love of Christ must be that which impels us.

The Gospel of John that we read these Sundays reminds us of the mission of Christ, the teacher of this love. The mission of Christ originate from His Father. He is God’s self revelation. In John 1:14 God became flesh in Christ (carum factum est John 1:14) in order to walk with, to bless us, to teach us how to love, and to draw us to himself.

Christ teaches us by his life style and  through his selfless  mission, the love he loves everyone with, the signs and miracles he works. Think of his changing of water into wine in Cana in Galilee (John 2), his teachings to Nichodemus, that unless one is born again he cannot enter into the kingdom of God (John 3). What about the significance of his encounter with the Samaritan woman (John 4), the cure on the Sabbath at Bethesda (John 5), the multiplication of loaves (John 6), his walking on he Sea (John 6:16ff), his forgiveness to sinners (John 8), his healing of the man born blind (John 9), the raising of Lazarus from the death (John 11) and his consolation ministries to the grieved, like Martha and Mary.

But before leaving to embrace his Glory on the cross(John 18-19:42), Christ, in today’s Gospel bequeaths  his disciple the summary of his mission. He washes the feet of his disciples and gives them a new commandment (“behold I make all things new” Rev 21:5a) “to love one another” (John 13:34). He meant to remind his disciples that as he was leaving, this is the new  way  they should continue to make his values and teachings present to our neighbors at all times. This is how the world and the society will know that we are Christ’s disciples.

There are  many ways to make this known depending on who we are, where we are and what we are doing. In the case of Paul and Barnabas they were not discouraged that Christ was no longer physically there. In spite of the rejection and persecution they encountered in their first missionary journey they persevered with love and endurance. They spread the gospels to several nations and cities including Pisidia, Pamphylia, Attalia, Perga, Lystra, Iconium and Antioch. At Antioch he re-gathered the church and explained to them his experience of his missionary journeys, which he saw as God opening the door of faith to all nations, men, women and children.

Each of us, the entire church must find new ways to re-evangelize and encourage ourselves, our brothers and sister to embrace  or persevere in that faith, with love and endurance. For our students here, the Semester coming to and end, I can imagine the anxiety surrounding our examination and promotions to various levels and orders in the  your formation process. For our parents and friends, there are also moments I believe you feel  a little tired on the journey.  In each of these moments we want to borrow a leaf from Paul and Barnabas, and see the endurance  we endure, the love we love as opportunities to strengthen our faith,  and moments to open the door of faith to our neighbors.

Pope Emeritus, Benedict XVI in his Porta Fidei (the door of faith) of this Year of faith recommends the need for us to reach out to the world with the content of the Sacred Scriptures and the teachings of the church expressed in the Catechism and in the documents of the Vatican II.

Pope Francis builds on this- on his  dramatic reaching out to the poor, the needy, the prisoners, the aged the less privilege, which is an expression of the new way of love that Christ handed his disciples in today’s Gospels. Reaching out to the poor, praying for our neighbors ( the Bostonians, the Texians, those in war torn areas, and the sufferings everywhere), visiting the sick, the home bounds, those in hospice and hospitals, reaching out to our neighbors even within the same house, the same complex, the same roof, the same family, the same institution, the same factory, requires selflessness and letting go of ourselves.

Love is  that door of faith that leads us and our neighbors to Christ.