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Homily for seventh Sunday of Easter B

11 May 2018, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Sermons

jesus prayedBefore our Lord Jesus Christ’s passion, he prayed for his apostles; he consecrated them, ordained them, and handed his ministry over to them. In this prayer of consecration, Jesus reveals that the Father specially chose the apostles. He said, Holy Father, keep those you have given me true to your name, so that they may be one like us. They were chosen for a purpose, and that purpose for which they were chosen is made clear in our first reading today.

In our first reading, Peter stood up and spoke to a congregation of about a hundred and twenty persons. He reminded them of Judas who betrayed Jesus and how he separated himself from the group of believers by that. His place, therefore, another must take, says the psalmist. But the question is, who takes his place? Whoever takes his place must meet the standard or purpose for which the apostles were called; to be witnesses to Christ Jesus. So, Peter said, we must therefore choose someone who has been with us the whole time that the Lord Jesus was traveling around with us, someone who was with us right from the time when John was baptizing until the day when he was taken up from us-and he can act with us as a witness to his resurrection.

You and I have been called to take the place of Judas; we have been called to be witnesses to the resurrection power in our homes, societies, and wherever we find ourselves. witnessingThis call to witness is a big challenge; it is a call to witness to Christ in a world dominated by evil and all kinds of wickedness. A world where Church for many is anywhere signs and wonders are worked, a place where there is a demonstration of power, speaking in tongues, anointing, fasting and prayer, visions and prophecies. We are called to be witnesses in a world saturated by the lies and the deceptive promises of the anti-Christ and his agents.

To bear witnesses to Christ, we must, first of all, witness him,  else we will be telling lies. No one can bear witness to what he or she has not witnessed; you must witness to what you bear witness to. You cannot bear witness to an accident case you did not witness, or else you will be telling lies. For you and I to be true witnesses to the resurrection power of Jesus Christ in the world, we must experience it; for we cannot witness to a God, we do not know. John, n our second reading, we ourselves saw, and we testify that the Father sent his Son as the savior of the world (1Jn. 4:14). Again, John said,  that which we have seen and heard we proclaim also to you, so that you may have fellowship with us…(1Jn. 1:3). We can only proclaim the Christ we know, we can only proclaim the resurrection power we have experienced, and we can only be true witnesses if we had witnessed what we are called to witness.

It is not enough to be called Christians; we must know Jesus Christ and have a healthy and personal relationship with him. Christianity is not a mere religion; it is a relationship; it is about faith in Christ Jesus. For one to witness to Christ in a world that is so corrupt, evil, and unfriendly, we need to be sure of who we are and where we stand in Christ. Witnessing to Christ demands faith and courage. The apostles witnessed the resurrection power because they had seen the power; they witness even with their lives because they were very sure of what they were witnessing.  They were empowered by the Holy Spirit and that same Spirit you and I received when we were baptized and confirmed.

witnessTo be true Christians and witnesses, we do not need a certain kind of study; no, all we need is a certain kind of experience. We must frequently run to God in prayer because he calls and gives us the strength to witness to him. As Christians, therefore, we must not allow our prayer life to grow cold; it is the engine room of our witnessing. No matter how beautiful the car’s body looks, if the engine is dead, the car is dead.

As we continue to struggle to follow Christ and witness to him in our daily lives, let us rely on Him alone for strength and directions.

  • gary Reply

    Two of the biggest assumptions that many Christians make regarding the truth claims of Christianity is that, one, eyewitnesses wrote the four gospels. The problem is, however, that the majority of scholars today do not believe this is true. The second big assumption many Christians make is that it would have been impossible for whoever wrote these four books to have invented details in their books, especially in regards to the Empty Tomb and the Resurrection appearances, due to the fact that eyewitnesses to these events would have still been alive when the gospels were written and distributed.

    But consider this, dear Reader: Most scholars date the writing of the first gospel, Mark, as circa 70 AD. Who of the eyewitnesses to the death of Jesus and the alleged events after his death were still alive in 70 AD? That is four decades after Jesus’ death. During that time period, tens of thousands of people living in Palestine were killed in the Jewish-Roman wars of the mid and late 60’s, culminating in the destruction of Jerusalem.

    How do we know that any eyewitness to the death of Jesus in circa 30 AD was still alive when the first gospel was written and distributed in circa 70 AD? How do we know that any eyewitness to the death of Jesus ever had the opportunity to read the Gospel of Mark and proof read it for accuracy?

    I challenge Christians to list the name of even ONE eyewitness to the death of Jesus who was still alive in 70 AD along with the evidence to support your claim.

    If you can’t list any names, dear Christian, how can you be sure that details such as the Empty Tomb, the detailed resurrection appearances, and the Ascension ever really occurred? How can you be sure that these details were not simply theological hyperbole…or…the exaggerations and embellishments of superstitious, first century, mostly uneducated people, who had retold these stories thousands of times, between thousands of people, from one language to another, from one country to another, over a period of many decades?

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      Hi Gary.

      I guess you are not a Christian even though your email address suggest you are. Well, you seem to be questioning the reality of the resurrection and ascension of Jesus Christ. These are undeniable realities; “for those who believe they need no explanation, but for those who do not believe, no explanation may be sufficient.”

      Gary, Christianity is not a religion that can be academically exhausted. I am not in doubt about scientific evidence or historical facts, but Christianity is far above these. If you doubt the resurrection of Jesus Christ, then you doubt the whole bible. What kind of historical evidence are you looking for that will be more than the ones St. Peter and all other evangelist gave. If Jesus were a dead man, miracles would not be worked in his name. The apostles worked miracles and we are still working miracles today in his name; he is alive!

      We preach what we have seen, touched and experienced. Science and all other archeological and historical investigations are not wasted efforts, but Jesus Christ is the Lord of all sciences and the giver off all knowledge.