April 24, 2016
5th Sunday of Easter Year C
Liturgical Color : WHITE
“A SERVICE OF LOVE IN THE LORD JESUS”
1. Awit Mga Binuhat
3. Bayan Umawit
4. Magsiawit sa Panginoon
5. Praise God
6. Sing a New Song
FIRST Reading ACTS 14:21-27
After Paul and Barnabas had proclaimed the good news
to that city and made a considerable number of disciples,
they returned to Lystra and to Iconium and to Antioch.
They strengthened the spirits of the disciples
and exhorted them to persevere in the faith, saying,
“It is necessary for us to undergo many hardships
to enter the kingdom of God.”
They appointed elders for them in each church and,
with prayer and fasting, commended them to the Lord
in whom they had put their faith.
Then they traveled through Pisidia and reached Pamphylia.
After proclaiming the word at Perga they went down to Attalia.
From there they sailed to Antioch,
where they had been commended to the grace of God
for the work they had now accomplished.
And when they arrived, they called the church together
and reported what God had done with them
and how he had opened the door of faith to the Gentiles.
RESPONSORIAL Psalm PS 145:8-9, 10-11, 12-13
R. (cf. 1) I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
The LORD is gracious and merciful,
slow to anger and of great kindness.
The LORD is good to all
and compassionate toward all his works.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Let all your works give you thanks, O LORD,
and let your faithful ones bless you.
Let them discourse of the glory of your kingdom
and speak of your might.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
Let them make known your might to the children of Adam,
and the glorious splendor of your kingdom.
Your kingdom is a kingdom for all ages,
and your dominion endures through all generations.
R. I will praise your name for ever, my king and my God.
SECOND Reading REV 21:1-5A
Then I, John, saw a new heaven and a new earth.
The former heaven and the former earth had passed away,
and the sea was no more.
I also saw the holy city, a new Jerusalem,
coming down out of heaven from God,
prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.
I heard a loud voice from the throne saying,
“Behold, God’s dwelling is with the human race.
He will dwell with them and they will be his people
and God himself will always be with them as their God.
He will wipe every tear from their eyes,
and there shall be no more death or mourning, wailing or pain,
for the old order has passed away.”
The One who sat on the throne said,
“Behold, I make all things new.”
GOSPEL JN 13:31-33A, 34-35
When Judas had left them, Jesus said,
“Now is the Son of Man glorified, and God is glorified in him.
If God is glorified in him,
God will also glorify him in himself,
and God will glorify him at once.
My children, I will be with you only a little while longer.
I give you a new commandment: love one another.
As I have loved you, so you also should love one another.
This is how all will know that you are my disciples,
if you have love for one another.”
REFLECTION OF THE READINGS:
Welcome my brothers and sisters in Christ to today's celebration of the Fifth Sunday of Easter. When considering Easter Sunday as a starting point for the spiritual journey of new converts, we come to perceive that during the liturgical calendar, the Spirit of God leads the souls towards a gradual spiritual growth. For us who have been Catholics for a number of years, this same spiritual process serves the purpose of reminding us of what we have already been taught during previous years so we may continue to be enriched in the knowledge and understanding of our Faith.
Reviewing the past few weeks, on Easter Sunday, we proclaimed that the Lord Jesus had indeed risen. On the Second Sunday of Easter, the liturgical readings opened our eyes to the early history of the Christian Church. The following Sunday, we were reminded of our loyalty to the Lord Jesus. Last week, we reflected on Jesus as the Good Shepherd, hearing His voice and following Him. Today, in the next step towards our spiritual growth, we are called to reflect on our service of love in the Lord Jesus.
During the Gospel Reading, we all heard the Words of Jesus when He gave us a new commandment, "Just as I have loved you, you also should love one another." [Jn. 13:34] To this, Jesus added, "By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another." [Jn. 13:35] By shining in love towards one another, others will know that we are the disciples of Jesus.
These Words of Jesus remind us of the words that are found in the First Letter of John. "Beloved, let us love one another, because love is from God; everyone who loves is born of God and knows God. Whoever does not love does not know God, for God is love." [1 Jn. 4:7-8] "God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them." [1 Jn. 4:16]
"Those who say, 'I love God,' and hate their brothers or sisters, are liars; for those who do not love a brother or sister whom they have seen, cannot love God whom they have not seen. The commandment we have from him (Jesus) is this: those who love God must love their brothers and sisters also." [1 Jn. 4:20-1]
My brothers and sisters, the love that we have for our brothers and sisters in Christ is but a reflection of the love that we have for God. If we love God, we seek to please Him in all things. To please God, we must obey the commandment of Jesus to love one another. By our obedience to this commandment, our love is perfected in the Lord Jesus so the heavenly Father may love us as He loves His only begotten Son.
Perfect love unites the children of God, (pause) without exception. If biological brothers and sisters are divided among each other, where is the love of God? If parents disown their children or the children continuously disobey their parents, where is the love of God? If a family is divided and no one is doing anything to reunite it in the love of God, where is the love of God? It is not in the family and it is not in those who know the family and remain silent to the division that harbours anger, hatred, violence, verbal abuse and all the works of Satan.
Where is the love of God when a nation is divided? The innocent are murdered. The children are orphaned. The women are raped. The refugees go hungry. The homes are destroyed. The drinking water is poisoned. Is this a service of love in the Lord Jesus?
Where is the love of God when the unborn are aborted? The life of the elderly and the sick is ended. The seniors are abandoned by their relatives. The state enforces the death penalty. The rich rob the poor. Those claiming to be christians are killing each other in the name of God. Is this a service of love in the Lord Jesus?
My brothers and sisters in Christ, who are we deceiving? Are we not deceiving ourselves? When the abnormal has become the norm, are we shining in a service of love in the Lord Jesus? Indeed, who are we deceiving but ourselves?
During today's First Reading from the Acts of the Apostles, we heard of the praiseworthy service of love that the Christians had for each other in the Lord Jesus. Paul and Barnabas continued on their mission from town to town, "strengthening the souls of the disciples and encouraging them to continue in the faith." [Acts 14:22]
Repeating the words of Paul and Barnabas, this is what they said, "It is through many persecutions that we must enter the kingdom of God." [Acts 14:22] When they were telling the believers that they must persevere through many persecutions, Paul and Barnabas were not telling them to be the cause of each other's persecution. They were not telling them that the Christians should be divided among each other and killing each other as is seen in some countries today. No, the persecutors were the non-believers, those who rejected Jesus Christ as the only begotten Son of God.
While it is very disturbing to see non-believers persecute Christians, how much more disturbing it is when those who are persecuting the Christians are those who claim to be Christians themselves. While they may bear the name of Christian, there is no doubt whatsoever that they are not Christians because they do not have the love of God in them. They are not Christians because they do not love their brothers and sisters in Christ. Nor do they know God because the love of God is not in them!
To shine in a service of love in the Lord Jesus is to imitate the saints of the Church such as St. Paul. In his love for Jesus, he appointed elders to lead the believers in each church. With prayer and fasting, he and Barnabas entrusted them to the Lord in whom they had come to believe. And when they completed their mission, they called the church together and related all that God had done with them and how he had opened a door of faith for the Gentiles.
Witnessing to the power of the Holy Spirit by the grace of the Heavenly Father, they shared their spiritual joy with their brothers and sisters in Christ. By doing so, they were strengthening the faith and hope of the believers. Surely, God blessed all of the Christians who were present. He provided them with the opportunity to hear of His Almighty power as the eternal Lord.
It is the same today. When a missionary comes from a foreign land and relates his personal experience of the goodness of the Lord God towards the new converts, those who are present, they are blessed by the Lord. For the Lord God provides them with the opportunity to hear first hand of all the awesome wonders that have been performed by His Spirit in the Most Holy Name of Jesus Christ.
Today's Second Reading from the Book of Revelation helps us to understand the purpose of the progressive development of the spiritual wonders of God within the Holy Catholic Church.
In his vision, while in the spirit [Rev. 1:10] in a state of ecstacy, John saw a new heaven and a new earth. [Rev. 21:1] What was this new heaven and this new earth? It was the glorious arrival of the long awaited "salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of His Messiah." [Rev. 12:10]
Through the Blood of the Lamb, [Rev. 12:11] the Kingdom of Heaven was regained when Michael and his angels fought against the dragon who was defeated and casted out of Heaven. [Rev. 12:7-9] At the same time, through the Blood of Christ, the spiritual Kingdom of God, invisible in nature, descended on earth. Those who qualify to enter the Kingdom of God are those who are born again of water and Spirit [Jn.3:5] through the Church Sacrament of Baptism. Through their new creation, they become members of the Body of Christ, the Kingdom of God on earth.
As Jesus said, "What is born of the flesh is flesh, and what is born of the Spirit is spirit." [Jn. 3:6] "The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshippers will worship the Father in spirit and truth, for the Father seeks such as these to worship him. God is spirit, and those who worship him must worship in spirit and truth." [Jn. 4:23-4]
(References to the human spirit: Job 32:8; Prov. 18:14, 20:27; Ecc. 3:21; Ezek. 11:19, 36:26; Zech. 12:1; Mt. 26:41; Lk. 8:55; Jn. 3:6; Rom. 8:15; 1 Cor. 2:11)
Through the newly created nature that we have all received during the Sacrament of Baptism, we were admitted into the invisible Kingdom of God on earth so we may worship God in spirit and truth. The earth is not the same anymore. Once, Satan was its ruler. Now, through the Blood of Christ, the earth is being transformed. With each new Baptism, the number of the children of God continues to grow and grow. And it shall continue to do so until such time as every human being has been baptized to receive the new creation and "the indwelling Holy Spirit in our hearts as a first instalment." [2 Cor. 1:22] Then, it shall be said that Satan has completely lost his kingdom. Christ will have conquered him by crushing death itself.
The new heaven and the new earth are spiritual domains that are here now, coexisting with our world. They are the fulfillment of God's promise through Isaiah. "I am about to do a new thing." [Is. 43:19] "For I am about to create new heavens and a new earth." [Is. 65:17] Now some may say that the new heaven and the new earth are not here. These are yet to come. But this is not the case. Listen to the Words of God from today's reading.
"I saw the holy city, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, 'See, the home of God is among mortals. He will dwell with them as their God.'" [Rev. 21:2-3] The reading says, "The home of God is among mortals." It does not say, "It is now among immortals." Once we have passed on from this life and we have entered the Heavenly Kingdom of God, we will have become immortals.
While it cannot be denied that God is present in Heaven, in this specific passage of the Holy Bible, it is a reference to the Divine Presence of God on earth in the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist and His dwelling in the Sacred Tabernacle. Through the Holy Eucharist, God is among mortals. He dwells with us as our God. Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist is fulfilled the promise of Jesus to the Samaritan woman, that "the hour is now here when we as true worshippers are worshipping God the Father in spirit and in truth, such being pleasing to God." [Jn. 4:23-4]
In this case, when the Holy Bible speaks of death being no more, mourning and crying and pain being no more, these things having passed away, such a description is of the spiritual nature of the newly created human spirit that we have received during the Sacrament of Baptism. Our new creation cannot experience spiritual death because it is of the seed of God. [1 Jn. 3:9]. As the angels have no need of food or drink, our human spirits cannot hunger or thirst because of their spiritual nature. Our spiritual nature cannot feel pain because pain results from the physical nature. Through our new creation is fulfilled the promises of the Lord God.
The description of the new creation, the new earth, the new heaven, [Rev. 21:1] the new heart, the new human spirit, [Ezek. 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26-7] the indwelling Holy Spirit, [Ezek. 11:19-20, 18:31, 36:26; Jer. 24:7, 31:33; Heb. 10:16] these are all the high point of the Book of Revelation. "If anyone is in Christ, there is a new creation; everything old has passed away; everything has become new!" [2 Cor. 5:17]
When the Holy Bible states that the New Jerusalem coming down out of Heaven from God is a Holy City, it tells us that it has a Divine origin. God is the Architect and the Builder of the city. [Heb. 11:10]
My brothers and sisters in Christ, in the Book of Revelation, there is only one place where God Himself speaks. His Words are, "See, I am making all things new." [Rev. 21:5] God is making all things new for us so we may shine in our service of love in the Lord Jesus.
Through our membership in the Mystical Body of Christ which includes the Kingdom of God on earth, we are drawn to love and worship God as we were created to love and worship Him. Through our spiritual growth during our daily personal relationship with God, we obtain the necessary graces for the love of God that is in us may shine towards our brothers and sisters in Christ. Therefore, through God's creation of new things, we are justified and sanctified so our service of love in the Lord Jesus may shine towards our brothers and sisters as it was meant to shine.
1. Mugna sa Dios
2. Gasa sa Gugma
4. Paghahandog ng Sarili
5. One Bread, One Body
6. Take our Bread
1. Kini Maong Akong Lawas
2. Balaan nga Gugma
3. Gugma ang Dios
7. Kaibigan, Kapanalig
8. God of Love (Schutte)
9. Here in this Place (Haas)
10. How lovely is your dwelling place (Aquino)
11. Love is the Answer (Hannisian)
12. We Remember (Haugen) Stanza 4 ang priority.
1. Ang Tawag
2. Pag-inambitay (if not used in entrance)
3. Tanda ng Kaharian
4. Ito ang bagong Araw
5. All my Days
6. I will Sing Forever
7. My Heart’s Thanksgiving