Homily for the sixth Sunday of Easter B08 May 2021, by Sermons in
I am very much interested in our first reading this morning from the Acts of the Apostles, and I am particularly interested in what Peter said to Cornelius after Peter stopped Cornelius from worshipping him. Peter says, “I truly understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation, anyone who fears him does what is right is acceptable to him.”
Cornelius was a Centurion, a position in the ancient Roman army, a none Jew whom the traditional Jews would see as an unbeliever. If you were not a Jew, you were outside those redeemed. Remember how Jesus met a Canaanite woman in the region of Tyre and Sidon, and he pretended to think and act as the Jews would do. The Canaanite woman asked Jesus for help; in reply, Jesus said his mission was only to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. (Mt. 15:24). So, she was outside those Jesus was sent to redeem, even though Jesus did not mean what he said.
For the Jews, therefore, Cornelius would be considered an outsider or unbeliever; Peter even acknowledged the fact that it was forbidden for Jews to mix with people of other nations. (Acts. 10:28). Yet, for this same “outsider,” God orchestrated the extraordinary manifestation of His love and presence. God sent an angel to tell Cornelius to invite Peter to his house, and the same God reveals to Peter not to see Cornelius as an “outsider,” profane or unclean. And when Peter arrived at Cornelius’ house and began to speak, the Holy Spirit came down on all who heard him, and Peter baptized them all.
Dear friends, do you consider yourself an outsider, profane or unclean? God can orchestrate your extraordinary experience of His Divine Mercy and love. You only need to believe and struggle even in your weakness to live each day with God. Jesus said in our gospel passage this morning that as the Father loves him, so he loves us, abide in his love. His love for us is not dependent on our ability to keep the law; St. Paul says God proves his love for us in that while we still were sinners, Christ died for us (Act. 5:8). The unconditional love of God is not a call to live and celebrate sin but an invite to reciprocate God’s love and remain in his love by being obedient to his commandments. Jesus said, if you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his love. The Lord’s commandment is; love one another as I have loved you.
St. John reminds us in our second reading that love for one another is key to truly loving God. We cannot claim to love God if we cannot love ourselves and our hearts full of bitterness and hatred. Unforgiveness creates no space for the love of God to dwell in our hearts; we must let go of hurts to embrace the healing mercy of God. I am not downplaying the pains of injuries or the difficulties in letting go of hurts. No, we are humans; we struggle with forgiveness. But we draw strength from our knowledge of how much God has forgiven us our sins; we forgive and let go of hurts as a sacrifice or a token of love for God’s love for us.
Brethren, as we come together this Sunday to celebrate God’s love and feast around one table, let’s ask the Lord to take our hearts of stone and replace them with hearts of flesh. Let’s ask the Lord for the grace to forgive, let go of hurts and be open to the extraordinary experience of his presence in our lives.