Live in Peace & Love: Sixth Sunday of Easter
Sermon by Emmanuel Suntheni OSB – Sixth Easter Sunday
Sermon And Christian Act In The Word
Theme: Peace I leave with you! Live in Peace & Love
Point of Reflection: When I visit people or when I encounter people each and every day, what do I leave them with? Hatred or love! Confusion or peace! As Christians, let us live in peace and love.
First Reading: Acts 15:1–2, 22–29
Psalm: Psalm 67:2–3, 5–6, 8
Second Reading: Revelation 21:10–14, 22–23
Gospel: John 14:23–29
Sermon (Reflection): They are only two most important words in this world which need to be lived by, thus, LOVE & PEACE. What the world needs today is only love and peace. What each one of us needs in his/her heart is only love and peace. If there is peace and love in the world, then, we can proclaim that we have fulfilled God’s mission. These two words are exactly what the Gospel reading of today is telling us. The Gospel comes from Jesus’ final speech to the apostles, delivered just before he departed from this world. In today’s passage, Jesus speaks about two essential foundations for discipleship and apostleship. First, his followers must keep his words, which means that their lives must be directed by his teaching. Such obedience is the sign of love that unites them to Jesus and, through him, to the Father.
The commandment of love was at the core of Jesus’ teaching. He understood love as obedience to the Father, and self-sacrifice (cf. John 15:12-14). Thus, the disciples’ lives must be founded on obedience to Jesus’ instruction to live a life of self-sacrificial love.
This was the manner of life that Jesus followed in obedience to his Father’s will, and which he expects of his true followers.
The second foundation for the disciples’ lives is the Holy Spirit who will be sent by Jesus from the Father. The Spirit will enable the apostles to continue Jesus’ mission of revealing God to the world by teaching and reminding them of all that Jesus has said. This means that the revelation of God which started with Jesus will continue through the Spirit-filled and Spirit-led apostles. Jesus laid the foundation for their mission. The Holy Spirit, building on this foundation, will make the apostles remember, understand, and apply the teaching of Jesus as they continue with their mission.
According to Jesus’ teaching, sacrificial love and the openness to the guidance of the Holy Spirit constitute the twofold foundation for apostleship. Built on this foundation, Jesus’ followers are assured of their success as witnesses to him, and of the union with Jesus’ Father which leads to eternal life.
Love and peace constitute true Christian daily living.
The early Church recognised and proclaimed Jesus’ death and resurrection as the sole foundation for Christian faith and life, and the path to salvation. This proclamation, known as the “kerygma”, formed the core of the apostolic proclamation. The vision in the book of Revelation confirms this by emphasizing that the heavenly community of God’s saved people rests on the foundation of the apostles and their witness to Jesus.
The first Scriptural reading of today(Cf: Acts 15:1–2, 22–29) describes the first major disagreement that arose among the members of the rapidly growing and expanding early Church. With the successful mission of Paul and Barnabas and the evangelising efforts of others, more and more Gentiles were joining Christian communities. This raised a question about the conditions for the admission of the Gentiles to the Church. Jesus, the apostles, and early evangelisers were all Jews who faithfully followed the Jewish law. Did that mean that the Gentile converts to Christianity must accept Judaism and follow Jewish ways and customs? Many Jewish Christians thought it did.
Some of them came to Antioch, insisting that the Gentiles joining the Church follow the Jewish observance. Such observance required circumcision from the male members and following the Jewish law by all. Others, like Paul and Barnabas, opposed this view, allowing the Gentiles to join and practice Christianity without converting to Judaism and practising Jewish law.
The real issue behind this debate was whether faith in Jesus alone is sufficient for salvation, or whether this faith needs to be accompanied by the continuing observance of the law of Moses.
This became a deeply divisive issue that affected particularly the Church in Antioch, which was the centre of the Gentile mission. To resolve the problem Paul and Barnabas were sent to Jerusalem for a meeting with the main Christian leaders, Peter and James the Elder. This meeting, known as the “Jerusalem Council” (cf. Acts 15:3-21), resulted in the first official and public Church declaration known to us. The leaders decided that the Gentiles are not required to observe the Jewish law. This declaration meant that faith alone constitutes the foundation of Christian life and suffices for salvation. A few additional requirements about renouncing idolatry, abstinence from blood and the meat of strangled animals, and from sexual immorality, were of secondary importance. This decision was announced in the first “Church document”, an apostolic decree carried by the representatives of the Jerusalem Church (Judas Barsabbas and Silas) to be announced in Antioch.
This decision marks the beginning of a new stage of Christian history. It allowed Jewish Christians to continue living by their ancestral law, without imposing it on the non-Jewish believers. But the most significant aspect of this decision was the authoritative declaration by the apostles that faith in Jesus Christ was the sole foundation for Christian life and practice. And Jesus is telling us to live in love and peace.
The second reading (Cf. Revelation 21:10–14, 22–23) continues with the vision of the New Jerusalem from the previous Sunday. This heavenly city radiating God’s glory symbolizes the new creation and the community of God’s saved people, the heavenly Church, filled with God’s presence. The vision reports that there are twelve gates inscribed with the names of the twelve tribes of Israel which control access to this heavenly city. This is a traditional biblical image based on the Old Testament, where God’s people are identified with the Israelite tribes named after the twelve sons of Jacob. However, this image ultimately goes back to the promise God made to Abraham. It was the promise of a new people, a great nation that will be God’s own.
This promise finds its ultimate fulfilment in this New Jerusalem. This New Jerusalem must be of love and peace.
Christian Act in Word of God “living in love and peace”
In the gospel, Jesus is preparing his disciples in advance for his absence so that they will continue to believe in him and not feel all alone after his return to the Father. After the initial excitement of his Easter appearances, Jesus will remain with his followers in a very different way throughout the centuries. This is why is giving them the commandment of love and peace.
As our celebration of the Easter season is coming to an end, the liturgy reminds us that Jesus remains with us through the Holy Spirit, who teaches us everything we need to know, reminds us of all that Jesus taught, and brings us peace.
We must deepen our relationship with Jesus, learn to get in touch with him, and sincerely love him. When we listen to the Holy Spirit, we will know His plan for our life and His solutions to whatever problems we face. We will be able to love our fellow human beings, and there will be a core of peace within us. The Holy Spirit teaches us through the Scriptures and preaching during the Holy Mass. Jesus loves us and comes to us in Communion. When the Mass is ended, we go forth in the peace of Christ. As Christians, we need to share this peace and live in peace.
Action: I will live in love and peace and share love to every person I encounter.
Prayer: Lord God, creator of all things, today in the Gospel you have given us love and peace as essentials for true human life living, please send your holy spirit upon earth and in our hearts to give us love and peace, so that everywhere we go and live, we must bring peace and love and may we all live in love and peace, this we pray in Jesus Christ’ name. Amen.