Liturgical Colour : White
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, on this Sunday which is the sixth in the holy season of Easter, all of us are reminded through the Scripture passages of the need for us all to love God and to be His true disciples, obeying His commandments and all that He has taught us to do, to be filled with love and to be open to His presence in our hearts, minds and in our whole beings, so that we truly can be called, God’s people and God’s children.
In today’s first reading, taken from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the dispute and infighting that arose among the faithful, between those who wanted to impose the Jewish laws and ordinances regarding circumcision and other practices in accordance to the laws of the Old Testament, that is of Moses and the practices as described in the Torah to all of the Christian faithful including the non-Jewish peoples, and those who wanted to relax and prevent the strict imposition of the Law on the Gentiles.
Through the Holy Spirit, the Apostles and the disciples of the Lord received the guidance of wisdom and truth, and not to be misled by pride, greed and all the things that often cause us mankind to be divided and to be filled with jealousy, anger and hatred towards one another. Instead of siding with one faction or the other that could have led to an even greater division and conflict, the Apostles ruled firmly through the wisdom of God that the Gentiles should not be made to obey and to follow the entirety of the Jewish practices and customs, while not ruling out the Jewish followers of Christ from doing so.
Ultimately, we have to understand carefully the context and background behind such a conflict, on why some of the people were so passionately filled with the desire to impose such a law and regulation on all the faithful. First of all, the Law of God was first revealed to His people, the people of Israel through Moses, who received the Ten Commandments as the core of the Law, while also receiving the set of laws and rules, as laid out in the book of Leviticus and the other books of the Torah.
These laws and rules were numerous, governing everything in the society, all sorts of daily living and regulations. And over time, all of these were compounded and added with the unwritten traditions and customs preserved by the elders of the people, which were meant to govern the behaviours of the people, especially because they often went wayward and refused to follow the Lord’s path, even early on in their journey just after they left Egypt.
The Lord Himself said that He had given His people those laws and rules not because He wanted to impose Himself on them, but rather because they had been so unruly, rebellious and filled with disobedience that He had to impose those laws and rules to make sure that they conformed to His ways. For ultimately, God loves each and every single one of His beloved children, and all the more those whom He had chosen from among the nations to be His own first chosen ones.
If God had not loved His people, He could have just destroyed and crushed them by the power of His will alone, and yet He did not do that. Instead, He went through all the trouble to discipline His people, to guide them back to the right path, giving them the right guidance and provide them with the best opportunities for them to seek Him back, to be reconciled and to be forgiven from their sinfulness.
That is because unless they turned back from all those rebellious and wayward actions they have done, they would fall deeper into sin, and therefore became separated ever further from God, their loving Father and Creator. How can any father just let his children to go and fall into such a state? And this is not just any father like any one of us, but God, our ever loving and ever dedicated Father, Who created us out of the perfect love He has for us.
Unfortunately, the people often forgot what it is that they need to do in order to love their heavenly Father and Creator. Instead, as what we have seen in our first reading today, those who have ended up making use of the Law in the wrong way, being overly obsessed in its implementation and workings but failing to realise the intention and the purpose of those laws in the first place. They forgot that the Law of God is the Law of love.
Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, how about us? Are we going to follow in the footsteps of those who prefer division and conflict, disagreements and infighting among ourselves, just so that we can advance our own selfish agenda, desires and push forward our pride and ego? Or are we instead going to follow the path that the Lord has shown us, the path of love, by first loving Him above everything else, and then loving our fellow brethren in the same way we love God and how we love ourselves?
This is our calling as Christians, to bear witness to the love of God, by practicing this love in our own lives, and we love God first and foremost because He has loved us so much first, that as our second reading passage from the Book of Revelations show us, God Himself has prepared a place for us in the heavens, the heavenly Jerusalem and the place of our true existence, by the side of God, no longer separated from Him and free from the bondage to sin and death.
Let us all therefore from now on seek to love more in our own lives, loving God and loving our fellow men to the best of our abilities. Let us all seek God and His generous love, and strive to love Him to the best of our abilities, from now on, that we may be reconciled with Him and be reunited with Him in His presence, and enjoy forever the glory of His kingdom as He promised to all of us, His beloved and faithful ones. Amen.