Sixth Sunday of Easter (B)
1. We are messengers of hope. Wars, calamities, poverty, economic crises, family and personal problems, anxieties, etc., can obscure the horizon of hope and can bring despair, frustration, anger and situations of demoralization. In situations like these, we can either dwell badly on the discouraging present situation or continue to be fully dedicated to our responsibilities and relationships in the hope of a brighter tomorrow. The Church always proclaims hope for all; and our Holy Father, in his travels, always brings and proclaims the hope that only Christ can give. In the midst of all the difficulties in life, we have Christ as our hope, and as His faithful disciples, we are messengers of hope in this world.
In his homily delivered in the Greek-Melkite Cathedral of St. George in Amman, Jordan on May 9, 2009, Pope Benedict said,
we set out to lead people from the desert towards the place of life, towards the Lord who gives us life in abundance…. your presence in this society is a marvelous sign of the hope that defines us as Christian…. That hope reaches far beyond the confines of our own Christian communities…. Yet, with your eyes firmly fixed on Christ, the light that dispels all evil, restores lost innocence, and humbles earthly pride, you will sustain a magnificent vision of hope for all those you meet and serve.
2. We are friends of God. A friend is one who manifests concern and love towards his neighbor. A person who does not show signs of love and visible acts of concern may be one who loves himself only, does things for selfish interest and does not know God. St. John tells us: “Beloved, let us love one another, because love is of God; everyone who loves is begotten by God and knows God. Whoever is without love does not know God, for God is love” (1Jn 4:7-8). In line with this, St. John also urges us: “let us love not in word or speech but in deed and truth” (1Jn3:18).
When we wish to visit a friend, a sick person, an elderly, a poor neighbor or a group of needy children, the first thing that we ask ourselves is: what can I bring? What can I give? There are many things that we can do or afford to give: food, clothing or assist them in education, throw a party and promise them a few things. But the best thing that we can actually do is to bring them into close friendship with Jesus. Sincerely in our hearts, we can visit the sick, comfort the afflicted and the dying, teach the ignorant regarding moral values and godly ways, admonish sinners and other works of mercy and bring people to Jesus and to the Church.
This is what Peter did to the household of Cornelius. Peter brought that pagan household to belief in and friendship with Jesus. We live in a world of paganism, where many people do not want to work in the presence of God, where people want to eliminate God in their lives, or where people just disregard God. In our actions and relationships, we can consciously lead people to friendship with God. We can talk less of ourselves and our achievements and reflect and talk more of the wonders and blessings of God in peoples’ lives. We can be less cynical and judgmental of others so we can bring courage and love to the weak, the discouraged and the exploited. We can try to be less distracted by worldly things so we can spend a little extra time in study, in prayer and in church activities.
3. Pope Benedict XVI, in his address at the Regina Pacis Center in Amman, Jordan on May 8, 2009, said:
Prayer is hope in action…. we come into loving contact with the one God, the universal Creator, and in so doing we come to realize the futility of human divisions and prejudices and we sense the wondrous possibilities that open up before us when our hearts are converted to God’s truth, to his design for each of us and our world…. In our own trials, and standing alongside others in their struggles, we glimpse the essence of our humanity, we become, as it were, more human. And we come to learn that, on another plane, even hearts hardened by cynicism or injustice or unwillingness to forgive are never beyond the reach of God, can always be opened to a new way of being, a vision of peace.
The Eucharist makes us grace-filled messengers of hope in this world. Let us ask God to make us His worthy friends as we try to make our world a place where Jesus is Lord and Savior for all.