Homily for the 6th Sunday of Easter
Dearly Beloved, as we come to this 6th Sunday of Easter, we remind ourselves that the Easter season is gradually coming to an end. Thursday will be the Ascension of our Lord. There will be mass here at 6.00pm. All the readings draw our attention to the theme of LOVE. As many of you know, there has never been a word spoken of and defined with different meaning than LOVE. However, we tend to look at the subject of love, we can never exhaust it.
The ultimate definition and expression of love are summarized in the second reading and the gospel. In the second reading St. John writes “In this is love: not that we have loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as expiation for our sins”. In other words, the measurement of love is based not on our love for God, which is always limited but rather, God’s love for us. The same point is expressed by Jesus in the gospel. “No one has greater love than this, to lay down one's life for one's friends”. True love will always require a sacrifice to be made. A sacrifice that is not based on hatred, animosity, division, unforgiveness, jealousy, pride for another human person regardless of who the person is, where the person comes from, what the person has done etc. But a sacrifice that is motivated by forgiveness, unity and all the good reasons you can think of.
Unconditional love for humanity is what makes Jesus’ sacrifice so unique and powerful in our world. I do remember the very story that brought freedom and independence to the Ashanti Kingdom in the 1600’s. In a war against our fiercest enemy there was the oracle that three chiefs would have to be sacrificed so to win the battle. These were to be sacrificed in different ways.
Those who volunteered were:
(A) Nana Asenso Kofo , chief of Adwumakasekese. He was buried alive
(B) Nana Dikopim 1 , chief of Edweso. He gave himself to be butchered
(c) Nana Tweneboa Kodua, paramount chief of Kumawu . He also gave himself up to lead the marching soldiers. Though he was armed, he was forbidden to shoot, therefore he was killed.
The battle was indeed won, but the sacrifice was motivated by hatred and domination of another nation. It was after this battle that the Ashanti Kingdom was unified. (You may go to this link for the full story.) http://www.thekingdomofasante.com/nana-osei-tutu-i/
Jesus, however, invites us to conquer and dominate rather the sin in others. To do this at all cost, even to the cost of your life is love. Sin and the consequence of sin (suffering in all forms: hunger, poverty, conflicts, gossiping etc) should be fought and defeated with all you’ve got.
Jesus presents us with a chain of love that should not be broken.
"As the Father loves me, so I also love you.
Remain in my love.
If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love,
just as I have kept my Father's commandments
and remain in his love.
Reflecting on this particular verse, asking myself, what did keeping his father’s commandment bring to him: Suffering and death. Therefore, by keeping to his commandments, be prepared for just anything.
However, just in the next verse he says.
"I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and your joy might be complete”
In fact, this is one of the paradoxes of our Christian life. Even in the mix of unfortunate events that happens or come our way by being obedient to God, we still find peace and joy within us. These are qualities that he offers as gifts. Nothing we do or have in themselves can bring peace and joy to us.
Again, Dearly beloved, know that sacrificial love for us is not a choice. It is a command from our Lord. He says, This I command you: love one another.
Let us pray in this mass that our love for one another will be genuine and may never give up if our love gets us into trouble, especially when it is towards the salvation of a soul; mother, father, brother, sister, friend or even and enemy. God bless you all.