Homily 6th Sunday of Easter Year C: Fr. Michael Ufok Udoekpo· Acts15:1-2,22-29
· Ps 67:2-3,5,6,8
· Rev 21:10-14,22-23
· John 14:23-29
Do Not Let Your Hearts Be Troubled“Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid. You heard me tell you, ‘I am going away and I will come back to you.” These are words of Jesus addressed to his disciples in today’s Gospel John 14:23–29), on this 6th Sunday of Easter. Similar message could be heard both in the 1st and in the 2nd reading as well. Same message was heard over and over again during the papacy of Blessed John Paul II—do not be afraid!
What troubles you? What makes you afraid? Is it your neighbor; high cost of living, our corrupt political system, the question of who wins the next election.., uncompassionate leaders, the examinations that we need to pass, and the promotions we expect, the strict laws we need to keep, the unforeseeable future in our careers; those sudden departures of our loved ones, insecurity, broken family structures, our broken temples, broken churches, cities, dilapidated infrastructures, rifts, conflicts, uncertainties, the estranged relationship with our friends, unpredictable economy or our times or imminent wars, or is it the rampant terrorisms of our day? Any of this is enough to cause fear in you!In the case of Jesus and his disciples in this gospel portion- the book of glory, the last supper discourse- it was Jesus’ prediction of his departure to the glorious cross that sent chilling fears into the hearts of his disciples. They must have been wondering where he was going, and what will happen to them socially, economically, religiously and politically. You see, with fear we can make wrong choices. With fear our heads spin! With fear we can forget the love of God and his teachings. We fear we can forgot those baptism promises. Jesus rather prefers loves. He recommends love to his disciples saying “whoever loves me keep my word, and my father will love him.” Which words? Those words that Jesus had preached in their company. Those miracles he worked. Those healings he made. Those feet he washed! Those words on the Cross, " Eloi Eloi, Lama Sabathani," ----"Father forgive them for they know not what they are doing!
For the group of the early Church in today’s 1st reading, Acts of the Apostle 15, the question whether the Gentile Christians should observed the dietary laws or strict Jewish-Mosaic laws was contentious enough to cause fear in the early Christian community. Thanks be to God with the guidance of the Holy Spirit it was decided that it was unnecessary to place the burden of physical circumcision and observance of Mosaic laws on the early Christian. The council of the Jerusalem decided that “the early church should not be troubled, or be afraid of been forced to observed the dietary laws physical circumcision.It is the image of this New Jerusalem that we see in today’s 2nd reading, Book of Revelation 21 and earlier in the Prophet Ezekiel 47-48. It is a new city of hope and life gleamed with the image and splendor of God- love, mercy, freshness, forgiveness, charity, and inclusiveness. Inclusiveness, in the sense that, it has 12 gates, not one gates, not selected gates, but 12 gates, and the names of the 12 tribes, not one tribe, not some tribes, not selected tribes, not favored tribes or villages and towns, but all the 12 tribes of Israel is inscribed in this new city of Jerusalem, an ecumenical council, the Church. A free wall. A city and a Church that welcomes immigrants, Jews and Gentiles alike!
Therefore, no one, irrespective of your conditions, losses, sins or brokenness, should be afraid to come or aspire for this city—namely the Lamb of God, Christ our merciful and loving Savior, who says to each of us today, “Do not be afraid. Do not let your hearts be troubled.”