HOME Homily Archives - Year C Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C

Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C
Homily. Readings: Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33; 34-35.


White Stole and Gospel
Readings: Acts 14:21-27; Psalm 145; Revelation 21:1-5; John 13:31-33; 34-35


Building the Kingdom involves a historical process that includes "many hardships" (First Reading). Amid the struggles we face for the faith, we are called to love as Christ loved (Gospel).

Though a supernatural project, the Church also builds on human effort (First Reading). Paul and Barnabas aren´t content to sit back and wait for the Holy Spirit to do his magic. Rather, they collaborate fully with the contribution of their own efforts, and they make "a considerable number" of new disciples, while "strengthening the spirits" of existing disciples. They appoint elders to oversee each local church. They travel. They report. Above all, they undergo "many hardships to enter the Kingdom of God." Christianity makes use of human effort to give a foundation for God´s work of sanctification.

Because of our first father´s fall, we, “the children of Adam" (Psalm), share in the pain of this world. Suffering saturates the human condition; it spares no one. What sets Christianity apart is that it gives meaning to suffering. Christ by his passion and death shows that death doesn´t have the last word. Indeed it is through Christ´s suffering that "God is glorified in him" (Gospel). This pain and suffering will see its end for those who remain faithful to God. In the end "He will wipe away every tear from their eyes" (Second Reading) and "make all things new." Rather than being a source of bitterness, suffering gives us a chance to share in the redemptive suffering of Christ.

The Church requires structure and strategy. Yes, the Church is the Mystical Body of Christ, but in its human dimension God has willed that it have a hierarchy and organization which require docility and obedience. Unsurprisingly, Paul and Barnabas´ activity bespeaks strategy _ they didn´t simply wing it. Though some people might yearn for a spiritualized Church, the shortcomings of human nature and the world demand discipline. Not even a marriage can function well without a structured life and system for decision making. Moreover, weakened by original sin, we are prone to subjectivism ("I think it´s OK, so it must be OK"), selfishness ("Let someone else´s child become a priest _ not mine") and just plain laziness ("Let someone else build the school / teach CCD / take meals to shut-ins").

Though often unconscious collaborators with God´s will, people can also enter deliberately into the divine plan by their actions, their prayers, and their sufferings (CCC 307). Man expresses and perceives spiritual realities through physical signs and symbols (CCC 1146). Faith comes from what is heard (CCC 875) implying the need for the Church and the community of believers.


Time and places have transcendence. We can easily overlook the importance of our day-to-day routine. We work, raise families, pay taxes, laugh, cry, pray. These can be the building blocks of sanctity! Every activity, offered back to God, can help us grow in holiness. It doesn´t take much to sanctify the little things _ a short prayer will do nicely. "Lord, I offer this to you." And little sacrifices aren´t without merit: "This is for my spouse, my child, my parish, etc."

Building the Church takes hard work
. A glimpse at old churches confirms this truth. Think of the generations before us who sacrificed in order to build churches, schools and hospitals. God blessed those works, yes, but they didn´t fall from heaven. Countless pennies, dollars, and hours of toil went into them. How much do I tithe to support the works of the Church? How many hours a week do I contribute to these works? People often go to extremes for the most passing of experiences: a soccer game, a fancy meal, an exotic vacation. Do we invest as much time in something of more last duration?

Time is kingdom. No one understood the value of time better than Our Lord: "I will be with you only a little while longer" (Gospel). One of the most precious gifts God gives us is, precisely, time. We cannot save it, simply use it, or lose it. And we will be called to account for what we did with our time. Time is the context for growing closer to God. How well do we use this precious commodity? Do we work with a daily or weekly schedule? Or do we improvise constantly? Try programming just one day of your week better, and see how much more you can accomplish.

Presumption, the great crippler
. Judas accompanied Christ for three years, and yet he failed. Do we presume that we can´t fail because we are Sunday Catholics? Or because we are not like "them" down the street? "Do not presume to say to yourselves, ´We have Abraham as our father.´ For I tell you, God can raise up children to Abraham from these stones" (Matthew 3:9). Growth in the spiritual life demands a regimen of daily prayer, a sacramental life, a healthy asceticism, and works of charity.