Sunday, 7 May 2023 : Fifth Sunday of Easter (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : White

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, this Sunday all of us are reminded yet again of why we celebrate most joyfully this holy and blessed season of Easter. We celebrate it because of the ever enduring Love of God Who has sent unto us His most beloved Son, Jesus Christ, Our Risen Lord, through Whom we have received the fulfilment of the promises of God, and through Whom we have been redeemed and saved from the impending destruction and damnation due to those many sins and wickedness that we have committed. God reached out to us with His love which endured even through the most difficult moments, and He patiently cared for us all and He still loved us despite of our frequent stubborn attitude and rebelliousness, which had often hampered us in the path towards salvation and true grace in God.

In our Gospel passage today, the Lord told His disciples that they all have to trust in Him and to listen to Him, and be reassured with everything that He has said and promised to them, as He would do whatever He had told them, and that even though they might not see Him for a little while, as He predicted His own suffering and demise, but He would never abandon them. Not only that, but this Sunday, as we come ever closer to the ending of the Easter season and particularly the celebration of the Solemnity of the Ascension of the Lord, we are all reminded that God is still there with us, protecting and guiding us throughout our journey. As He Himself said in the same Gospel passage today, that He would go on forward to prepare the places and rooms for us in Heaven, in the presence of God. By His Ascension, the Lord went up in glory, returning to His rightful place and Throne, and is now there reigning gloriously while still remembering each and every one of us.

Christ, our Risen Lord, by His suffering and death on the Cross has lifted us up from the deepest depth of our darkness and misery. He has unlocked for us the gates of Heaven and the path to reconciliation with God our loving Father and Creator, leading us down the sure path to redemption. The Lord has reached out to us with His most wonderful love, loving us most generously and with the gift of His Son, He has shown us all just how beloved and fortunate we are, that despite of our attitude and our mistakes and faults, God’s love still triumphed and overcame even all of those things. He despises our sins and wickedness, but He loves each and every one of us, His beloved children, and there is nothing that can separate us from His love, unless it is we ourselves who have consciously and purposefully refused His love and rejected His mercy.

All of us always have the choice whether to follow the Lord or to turn away from Him. But today we are reminded yet again therefore of God’s love and naturally, because God has loved us so much, then all of us should love Him in the same way as well, and have this love in our lives, in our actions and way of life, in how we interact with one another, in our every words and commitments in life. We are reminded that all of us Christians are a people that God had called and embraced with love, and we have been consecrated and chosen by Him, to be His tools and means through which His light, truth and love may be propagated ever more to our communities and to our societies today in the world that we are living in. Each and every one of us have been entrusted with the opportunities and the time for us to show forth the way of the Lord and His truth in our own lives.

As we heard in our second reading today from the Epistle of St. Peter, all of us as Christians are a chosen race, a community of priest-kings, a consecrated nation, and a people that God has made His own to proclaim His wonders. What St. Peter told all the faithful in this Epistle passage is a reminder for us all that through our baptism, in which we have become part of the Church of God, entering into this one community of believers and the faithful in the Lord, we have been sanctified and consecrated, marked with the very mark of the Living God, and all of us have entered into the New and Eternal Covenant that God has established with us through the works and sacrifice that His own beloved Son, Our Risen Lord, had done on the Cross. We have been called and brought into a new existence through Christ, a new life and existence that is full of God’s grace and free from sins.

Again, St. Peter had spoken about how the Lord was rejected by the people that He had been sent to, persecuted, arrested and made to suffer and die, because of the stubbornness of all those who have refused to listen to Him and His truth, all those who have allowed the vices of this world and their pride and ego to get the better of them. Yet, the Lord did not let all these to stop Him, and instead, He gave it all for our sake, by enduring the worst of persecutions and humiliations on our behalf, that through His perfect obedience and love, He might show to us what it truly means to live our lives worthily of the Lord, and to be a good and genuine Christian, full of faith and love for our loving God and Creator. He has become the Cornerstone, the Foundation of His Church, establishing His kingdom and dominion in this whole world, freeing us from the power and dominion of sin and death.

Therefore, each and every one of us as Christians, as God’s holy people, all of us are called to live our lives well and worthily as how Christians should be like, in doing the will of God and in obeying His Law and commandments at all possible opportunities. Each and every one of us have been blessed and given various talents and abilities, and we have been called to different vocations in life. But all of us are reminded to dedicate ourselves and our lives to the Lord in the manner how our Lord Himself, Jesus Christ, our Risen Lord and Saviour, had dedicated His life, work and ministry, in perfectly obeying the will of His heavenly Father, in doing what He had been sent into this world for, even to the point of laying down His life for us, because He truly loves each and every one of us. He is the perfect role model for all of us Christians in how we should live our lives.

Then, in our first reading today, we heard lastly from the Acts of the Apostles of the time when the Church under the leadership of the Apostles decided to appoint holy and devout men as the first Deacons of the Church, instituting therefore the Order of Deacons, which role is to assist the Apostles and their successors in the management and the daily running of the Church in its various ministries. Seven holy and worthy men were chosen from among the followers of the Lord, including the well-known St. Stephen, who would become the Protomartyr, or the very first martyr of the Church, who died in defending his faith in the Lord and in proclaiming the Good News and truth to the people. All of the deacons were appointed and charged with the mission to help in the care of the faithful, and later on in assisting the bishops and priests in their own ministry.

Through what we have heard today, all of us are reminded to do what the Lord has entrusted to each one of us to do in our own lives as well. The deacons had been called with a particular mission to serve the Church and the faithful, just as the Apostles and their successors, the bishops as well as the priests have their own missions and vocations to carry out throughout their respective lives. Then, there are also those who have been called to religious and consecrated life, dedicating themselves to a life of prayer, virtue, poverty and common life in certain communities and groups, as well as those others called to married life, to give glory to God through their families and by raising up children and new generations of faithful Christians. There are yet others called to holy single life, to the work of missions among others, called to glorify God in their own ways.

Now, brothers and sisters in Christ, let us ask ourselves, what is our own vocation in life? What have we been called to do and what have we committed ourselves to do with our lives? Let us all spend the time today and afterwards to discern carefully how we can live our lives better as Christians, in embracing more fully our various respective vocations in life, and doing the will of God in all things. Let us all do our best to carry out our Christian calling and obligations, our respective missions in life, making good use whatever opportunities, time and chances that God has presented to us. All of us have been entrusted by the Lord to do His will, to do our best in our lives and proclaiming His Good News and truth at all times. Our lives should serve as inspiration and guide for others all around us so that they may be inspired to follow our examples as well.

May the Risen Lord continue to guide and strengthen each one of us, and may He empower all of us to live our lives to the best of our abilities, to glorify Him by our lives and works. May God be with His Church and all of His faithful ones, at all times. May He bless our works and efforts, and remain with us always. Amen.

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