Friday, 4 May 2018 : 5th Week of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this day we listened to the continuation of the earlier story about the struggle of the Jewish and non-Jewish factions in the early Church, as recounted from the Acts of the Apostles. In that account, we see how the Apostles mediated the two factions, and found an ideal solution, the middle way between both factions’ ideas and desires.

The Jewish faction wanted a strict observation of the Jewish law, even among the Christians of non-Jewish background. This made difficulties in the work of evangelisation among the Greeks and the other Gentiles, as some of the provisions of the Jewish law were difficult to be followed by the non-Jewish peoples due to the cultural differences and practices.

Meanwhile, on the other hand, St. Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles wanted a relaxation of the laws and the rules pertaining to the Jewish customs and tradition, not requiring those Christians of non-Jewish origins to follow those rules and regulations. Instead, as long as the faithful, those who have been newly baptised, obeyed all the rules and commandments as stipulated by the Church elders, which were much simpler and meaningful than the extensive Jewish traditions, then that would have been enough.

The dispute went on to the Apostles, who came together with the entire Church to settle the issue once and for all. They prayed to God over the matter, asking the guidance of the Holy Spirit, to be with them in their decision-making, and they decided that all the faithful, regardless of their prior background or customs, must adhere to a set of basic and fundamental rules, essentially, what the Lord has revealed to His disciples, as the true Law He has given us.

And this, is what the Christian faithful were exhorted to believe, and not the additional rules which became a burden to the faithful people of God. The Apostles agreed that the faithful should not be burdened by additional rules and regulations which have no meaningful impact on the genuine faith life as expected of all Christians, and this was the decision which was relayed to the entire Church at the time.

All of these ultimately redirected the focus of the Christian faith, back to what we have heard in today’s Gospel reading, in which Jesus said to His disciples, “Love one another just as I have loved you.” In that short sentence, the Lord Jesus summarised essentially all that is meant for us to be a good and faithful Christian, that is by obeying God’s commandments and laws, the Commandments of Love.

For love must be at the centre of every Christian persons, and at the very heart of our faith. Otherwise, our faith and indeed, our life is empty and meaningless, for God is not inside our hearts and beings. First of all, of course, we must love the Lord our God, with all of our heart, with all of our strength and capability, doing our best to focus ourselves on Him and do everything for the greater glory of His Name. This is the first and foremost thing that all of us as Christians must do.

If we do not love God, then of course we cannot call ourselves as Christians. And yet, that is what many of us often do in our lives. How is that so? Let us just see at how we often lived out our lives, in our daily actions, and in all that we do. We often spend so much time trying to attain for ourselves earthly pleasures and satisfactions, that we end up forgetting about God and putting Him aside, in our seeking of power, of wealth, of worldly pleasures and satisfaction?

And then, if we do love God, then we have to show it in our interactions with one another, for each and every one of us are God’s children, the ones whom He loves. If God loves each and every one of us, then how can we not love one another as well? If we hate someone, would it not mean then that we do not love God as well? For surely God also loves the one whom we hate or are angry with?

Brothers and sisters in Christ, today we are therefore called to fulfil our Christian obligation to love, and to serve the Lord with love. Let us all from now on, if we have not done so, love the Lord our God and put Him at the centre of our lives and devote ourselves wholeheartedly to Him. And then, let us all love each other, just as we have loved God, and just as He has first loved us all.

May the Lord be with us all, and may He bless all of our endeavours, so that in all the things we do, we will always be blessed and be filled with God’s grace and love. May God bless all of us, and walk with us, all the days of our lives. Amen.

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