Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter, A

In our first reading this morning we see a drama we cannot overlook, a drama with both negative and positive interpretations. It happened when the number of the early Christians was increasing. There was a report of discrimination among the people; the Hellenists complained that their widows were been discriminated against by the Hebrews in the daily distribution of food. So, to put a stop to that evil of discrimination, the twelve apostles called the people together and addressed them, saying; It would not be right for us to neglect the word of God so as to give out food; you, brothers must select from among yourselves seven men of good reputation, filled with the Spirit and with Wisdom; we would hand over this duty to them, and continue to devote ourselves to prayer and to the service of the word. That was done, and with that arrangement, the problem of discrimination was resolved.

Discrimination is evil, and I have no doubt in me that this evil has eaten deep into our society, threatening the unity of our nation and even creeping into the Church. Discrimination in all its forms is unchristian, condemnable and must be rejected. So many are discriminated against based on race, colours, language, religion and even socio status. We forget that it is written that There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus (Gal. 3:28). Even the so called unbelievers belong to Christ, for he said; And I have other sheep, that are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they will heed my voice (Jn. 10:16). There is therefore no bases for discrimination, for we are one in Christ.

In that drama of discrimination in the early Christian Community we see two very important aspects of our lives we must not take for granted; our material and spiritual needs. We are both material and immaterial, physical and spiritual. Man is a soul, and for the soul to exist in the material world, he has to take flesh. And the soul and the flesh must be taken care of, they both need attention, they both need to be fed, but with different kind of food. The early Christians lived a community life, they sold all they had and gave the money to the apostles, and so it became the responsibility of the apostles to take care of their spiritual and material needs. As the number of believers increased, the daily distribution of material goods became a problem, and the apostles had to decide to relief themselves of the burden of daily distribution of material goods for the purpose of not been distracted. They did not condemn material goods, but they realized that it could be a distraction to spiritual life. There are so many other things that could distract us in life, things that could distract us from our heavenly inheritance. For Jesus says that there are many rooms over there in heaven, and that he is going to prepare a place for us. It is for us, it is our inheritance in Christ Jesus. St. Paul reminds us in our second reading that we are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a consecrated nation, a people set apart to sing the praises of God who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. We all are chosen to inherit a room in our Father’s house, and we know the way to this house. When Jesus said to the apostles, you know the way to the place where I am going, Thomas responded that they did not know the way. Anyone who does not know the way is lost. But it is difficult to get lost in our modern world, finding our way around the city has become so easy with the help of Global Positioning System (GPS). All you need is just to switch it on and key in your location and destination and then listen to the voice telling you turn right, turn left. But this GPS cannot lead us to heaven, it is like the material things that are good and necessary but cannot satisfy the soul. The voice we need to listen to as we journey to heaven is that of Christ. He says; I am the way, the Truth and the life. No one can come to the Father except through me.

Brethren, we are all on a journey, the journey of life. There are so many ways to follow and so many voices to listen to, but they don’t all lead to the same destination. Jesus alone is the way to our eternal home, so, while we enjoy material things in this world, let us not be distracted by them but be ready at all times to follow Christ when he comes.

Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA

Joel Okojie is an ordained Catholic Priest in the Order of St. Augustine. He has been a Priest for over a decade. He served as pastor in two different parishes, he was one time Novice Master and a member of the Provincial Council of the province of St. Augustine of Nigeria, and he is currently on a mission in response to the needs of the Church in Canada.

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