First Reading: Acts 10:25-26.34-35.44-48; Psalm: 98. R. v. 2; Second Reading: 1Jn 4:7-10; Gospel: Jn 15:9-17



Today's Mass: A NEW COMMANDMENT; LOVE ONE ANOTHER JUST AS I LOVED YOU.  (Homily for April 24, 2016. Fifth Sunday of Easter. Year C)   

The hatred and division between the Jewish and the Gentile world is faith and race-related. The Jewish people are descendants of Jacob (named Israel after wrestling with God); but the Gentiles are not. In the Old Testament passages, God is enamoured of the descendants of Israel; a love made visible in the manner God rescued them from the land of slavery. In Deuteronomy 7:6, the Lord said: “For you (Israel) are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” This very passage gave the descendants of Israel the delight to exclusively claim that they are the chosen people of God.  

The division between these two races continued even in the days of Jesus. The Jewish people believe they have an edge over the Gentiles since they are chosen by God and serve the true God. When the Jews became believers of the gospel of Christ, this mentality did not change. Gentiles must not mingle with them; but if this should happen, the Gentile must first become Jew through some rigorous rituals. Jesus made every attempt to break this barrier but this mentality only began to change in the post resurrection church. As Jesus promised; “But the Counselor, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you.” (Jn 14:26). And truly, the Holy Spirit came through for the believers in this regard. This happened in our first reading of today.

Cornelius and his entire household were Gentiles. When Peter, a Jew entered the house of Cornelius, some of the Jewish believers who accompanied him from Joppa were apparently not comfortable with this idea. To clear their biases, Peter spoke of his vision prior to this visit how God revealed to him not to regard anyone as unclean. And while Peter was still speaking, the Holy Spirit fell on the entire household of Cornelius that they began to speak in tongues extolling God. This revelation confirmed Peter’s testimony and became a testament that God shows no partiality but accepts everyone as his own, Jews, Gentiles, and every other race on the face of the earth. When the Jewish believers saw this, they were dumbfounded. And this was how the entire household of Cornelius were baptised without first becoming Jews.

God’s love is not biased or exclusive as the Jewish people thought. God’s love is all-inclusive. St John tells us in our second reading of today that God is love; and that the love of God is made manifest in his son Jesus Christ who came that all might live through him. And having manifested the love of God, Jesus commands us in our gospel reading of today; “This is my commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you. Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn 15:12-13).

It is worthy of note that Jesus did not command us to love one another as we love ourselves or as we please; for our love is flawed. Rather, Jesus said; “. . . love one another as I have loved you.” So, the kind of love Jesus expects from us is the kind that comes from God and made manifest by him in word and deed. We must not give up our lives as Jesus did to show or to prove this kind of love. But in our daily lives and in the choices we make, we can show that the love of God lives in us when we regard others as completely equal to us.

Our race, wealth, education, achievements, qualities, and even our phenotype do not define our identity as God’s children. These things are mere accidents. In philosophy, accidents are the properties of a thing which are not essential to its nature. Put differently, accidents do not define the nature of a thing. We can only realise our equality when all accidents are removed. When we begin to realise that what makes us truly human is the image of God that we carry. So, when we begin to love, care and mingle with people due to the accidents or the physical properties surrounding them; then we are lacking in God’s love.

What Jesus asks of us today is to love one another as he loves us. To be all-inclusive in our love, hospitality, and generosity. To put aside our cultural and racial differences and see in each one of us the image of God to loved and appreciated. Not to allow religion put a chasm between us and the people of other faith. Not to feel superior in faith and privileges that we begin to treat others different from us with condescension. Because in the final analysis, we are all God’s children who deserve to be loved just as God loves us.


Lord Jesus, by your paschal mystery you broke down the barriers that separated our world. Help us by your grace to become agents of this mission of love called to unite our world still marred by racism and discrimination. Amen     

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