The Risen Christ: The Hope Of The New Creation
Readings: 1st: Acts 14, 21-27; Ps: 144, 8-13; 2nd: Rev 21, 1-5; Gos: Jn 13, 31-35
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at: email@example.com, firstname.lastname@example.org
On this fifth Sunday of Easter, we continue glorifying the risen Christ. Gradually Christ approaches his Ascension into heaven. Hence, He promised us a place with him in his kingdom if we persevere in our faith and love for one another.
In today’s first reading, Paul encourages us to remain faithful in our missions as disciples of Jesus Christ. He reminds us that: “We all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God.” In other words, our suffering as Christians is the stepping stone to our victory. If we do not lose our faith during times of persecution and hardships, we shall be victorious. Therefore, love for the word and love for one another must sustain us as we march toward the kingdom of God.
Through the vision of John in today’s second reading, God gives us a glimpse of that kingdom that Paul spoke of in our first reading. God’s kingdom is the place of renewal where Christ will restore our lost glory. The New Jerusalem is the reward for Christians who bear an authentic witness to Christ. It is the hope of those who endure persecution for the sake of Christ. It is the hope of those who maintain their faith in Christ.
It is a place of comfort and consolation where the risen Christ “Will wipe away all tears from their eyes; there will be no more death and no more mourning or sadness.” Through this vision, we are once again encouraged and assured that God himself has a place for us in his kingdom. It is his wish that one day we too shall be with him in his eternal kingdom where he promised to make all things new for us. However, before then, we must endure the crucible of this world.
In today’s gospel, Christ gives us a new commandment that will help us to overcome this world and march into the New Jerusalem. He says: “I give you a new commandment, love one another; you must love one another.” Through this, Christ reminds us that the only way we can overcome the tribulations and persecutions of this world is by remaining united in love.
In times of trials and persecution, love is the greatest virtue that sustains every Christian community. The early Christian community understood this very well. They obeyed Christ’s command and were successful in their missions. So, their admirers commented thus: “See how they love one another” (Tertullian, Apology: 39.7, 3 AD).
Any Christian community or family united in love will never lose its focus or faith in God. This is the love that Paul described in chapter thirteen of his first letter to the Corinthian Christian community. This love cares and does not exploit the other. It endures, forgives, empathizes, and sympathizes with the other. This love may be blind, but it remains very prudent, sensible, reasonable, and godly.
Finally, the love that Christ talks about here is an identification mark. Hence, He says: “…By this love, everyone will know that you are my disciples.” In other words, it is what defines us as faithful disciples of Christ. Only those who love sincerely can enter the New Jerusalem that the risen Christ promised his people. This love marks the newness of life that Christ brings to all his people this Easter season.
Peace be with you!