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Homily for Fifth Sunday of Easter, A

12 May 2017, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

In our first reading this morning, we see a drama we cannot overlook, a drama with negative and positive interpretations. It happened when the number of early Christians was increasing. There was a report of discrimination among the people; the Hellenists complained that their widows were 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 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 the service of the word. That was done, and with that arrangement, the problem of discrimination was resolved.

Discrimination is evil, and I do not doubt that this evil has eaten deep into our society, threatening our nation’s unity and even creeping into the Church. Discrimination in all its forms is unchristian, condemnable, and must be rejected. Many are discriminated against based on race, color, language, religion, and even socioeconomic 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; 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 basis for discrimination, for we are one in Christ.

In that drama of discrimination in the early Christian Community, we see two fundamental 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 both need care; they both need attention, they both need to be fed, but with different kinds of food. The early Christians lived a community life; they sold all they had and gave the money to the apostles. 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. The apostles had to decide to relieve themselves of the burden of the daily distribution of material goods not to be 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 will 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 how 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 Global Positioning System (GPS). All you need is to switch it on and key in your location and destination and then listen to the voice telling you to 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 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.