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Homily for sixth Sunday of Easter B

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

love-one-anotherIn our first reading today, Peter went to the house of Cornelius and he talked about how God has no  favorite. We are all God’s children, God sent his Son to die for all of us and not for a few. Anyone who fears God and does what is right is acceptable to him, even those we call sinners or unbelievers are not outside  of God’s love. Anyone who faces condemnation  tomorrow is condemned not because he is not loved by God but because he or she refuses to accept God’s love. God does not take pleasure in the death of a wicked man (Ezekie18:23), but God shows his love for us in that while we were yet sinners Christ died for us (Romans 5:8).

Peter was still talking to the people about the love of God  when God confirmed everything he said by sending the Holy Spirit on all those listening to him. The Jewish believers who had accompanied Peter were all astonished that the gift of the Holy Spirit should be poured out on the pagans too, since they could hear them speaking strange languages and proclaiming the greatness of God. See what God’s love can do even to sinners! John said in our second reading that he is talking about God’s love for us and not our love for God. God’s love for us is unconditional, his love transforms. In the Old Testament we were told to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, but today Jesus tells us today that we are to love not just the way we love ourselves but the way he loves us.

Jesus calls us today to love one another, and this love is deeper than what we think. The word “love” has been so much abused and reduced to mere words today. Have you ever been asked to define love? or have you ever asked somebody to define love? When people begin to try to define love or analyze what love is, it shows that vacuum exist somewhere. It is only when something is lacking that we begin to analyze and contemplate what that thing actually is. When Jesus talked about truth, Pilate asked him,  what is truth? (Jn. 18:38). Different people have different interpretations of that question, but I strongly feel that Pilate asked that question because truth was lacking, the people were not ready to come to the side of truth. So, if you asked somebody if he loves you, you are indirectly telling the person that you don’t feel loved. That is why we don’t ask God if he loves us because we can feel the love of God, we can see it. Jesus said that a man can have no greater love than to lay down his life for his friend. That, he has don for us.

Love is symbolically represented by the sign of the heart,heart our love for one another should come from the heart and not the lips. The love that comes from the heart is deep and real, unconditional. That is what God wants from us and not lips service, he gets angry when we honour him with our lips while our hearts are far from him (Isaiah 29:13). Love for one another goes beyond material things to connect with your own relationship with God; if you are not convinced that God loves you, you may not be able to love others. God said, love one another as I have loved you. Love started with God, the only reason we can love is because God loved us first. We must learn to hold on to God’s love for us, for apart from him we can do nothing.

For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son…(Jn.3:16), therefore, love involves giving. But what you give and how you give matters. It is unfortunate today that giving has being reduced to mere drama; some people believe that he who gives is the one that loves, but it is not always true. Some persons give to make mockery of the receiver, some others give to show off their wealth, while still, some others are not involved in what they give. The bible says that God loves a cheerful giver (2Cor. 9:6-7). loveThe love is not in what you give but in the cheerfulness, sincerity, the spirit with which you give.

Loving ourselves should not be tied to the act of giving material things alone, it is also about relationship, it is about trust. Some can give you everything but keep themselves from you, they keep their friendship and their smiles from you. Of what use is our gifts if we cannot accompany each other as pilgrims on earth? How do I claim I love you if I do not see or say anything good about you? Love is patient and kind; love is not jealous or boastful; it is not arrogant or rude. Love does not insist on its own way; it is not irritable or resentful; it does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right. Love bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never ends;…(1Cor. 13:4-8).

As we celebrate this Sunday, let us renew our love for one another and open up to God’s blessings.