Fifth Sunday of Easter Acts 14:21-27; Rev 21:1-5; Jn 13:31-35 (Year C)
“Paul and Barnabas, on their arrival at Antioch, assembled the Church and gave an account of all that God had done with them, and how he had opened the door of faith to the pagans.”
These words come at the conclusion of the first missionary journey of Paul and Barnabas. They bear eloquent witness to the dynamism and presence of the Risen Lord as he was received in the many towns and villages visited by Paul. They also show that to receive Christ as our living Lord is to share as much in his suffering and death as in his Resurrection. Thus Paul instructed all that were received into the faith that “we all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God”.
Throughout the centuries each generation of the Church has experienced faith as both joy and suffering. Our present generation is no exception. We suffer both from the rejection of a hostile world and from sin’s self-inflicted wounds. May such wounds lead to repentance and a renewed faith in the Lord’s healing presence.
Against a background of such suffering in the early generations of the Church, Revelation’s vision raised hard-pressed Christians to the final and concluding unfolding of Christ’s Resurrection. “I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth, I saw the New Jerusalem coming down from God out of heaven. I heard a loud voice call from the throne. ‘You see this city. Here God lives among men. He will wipe away all tears from their eyes.’ Then the one sitting on the throne spoke. ‘Now I am making the whole of creation new.’”
In the Gospel, Jesus teaches us how, even now in this imperfect world, we can begin to live as a part of his new creation. “My little children, I shall not be with you much longer. I give you a new commandment: love one another; just as I have loved you, you also must love one another. By this love you have for one another, everyone will know that you are my disciples.”
The humility of self-sacrificing love, rather than the grandeur of achievement or the eloquence of words, was Christ’s greatest witness to the Father. May such humble love become both the measure of our faith in the Risen Lord and its greatest witness.