Dear friends, the theme of this Sunday is « what is new »? The Gospel tells us about the new commandment. The second reading presents the new world that will come about the end of the time, when God will destroy evil. In the first reading, we were told about the new communities founded by Paul and Barnabas, centres radiating the light of those who really live the new commandment. In fact, « they gathered the Church together and declared all that God had done with them, and how He had opened a door of faith to the Gentiles ». Paul and Barnabas did this while the were in their missionary trip, strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, even during the tribulations they would have to endure.
Paul and Barnabas’ admonition to these new communities is still very relevant to us today. We all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God.’ Suffering is inevitable for those who are the true followers of the way. The followers of Christ cannot shy away from the tribulation that precedes the appearance of the kingdom of God. For as long as we seek to establish the kingdom of God on earth, we will meet difficulties on their way. The success of this mission for Paul is an indication that God was with them all through their ordeals.
One more thing in this passage that is of great interest is the fact that once they arrived in Antioch, they assembled the Church and gave an account of their stewardship of this first missionary effort and of what God had done with them and how the door of faith had been opened to the pagans. When a dispute arose on the issue of circumcision, Paul and Barnabas proved their leadership skills by submitting themselves to the authority in Jerusalem, it is an honour no one takes on himself.
The Book of Revelation which we listened to in the second reading was written to bolster the Faith of persecuted Christians in all ages. Today’s passage begins the final section of the book. The scene is really a vision of the new age of eschatological fulfilment inaugurated by the death and Resurrection of Jesus. The ancient city of Jerusalem had long been for the Jews a token of God’s presence with them. God had aided them in capturing and holding it, in making it their capital, in building His Temple there, and in returning to it to rebuild it after its destruction by their captors and their consequent exile in Babylon. Within the holiest chamber of the Jerusalem Temple, they kept the stone tablets of the Law given to Moses in a chest known as the Ark of the Covenant. God dwelt in a particular way above this chamber.
These details give richness to the image of the “New Jerusalem” spoken of in Revelation. The image is a metaphor for the Church, which is always called to reveal God’s presence among us. Today’s passage from the Book of Revelation (21:3) gives us the assurance that “God’s dwelling is with the human race.” It affirms the fact that God is present at every moment of human history, even those most desperate and threatening. Jesus’ death and Resurrection have created a state in which a once-distant God is now present to every person and in every situation.
Moreover, Jesus has given us the insight and power to transform everything in our lives by practicing agápe love in our interactions with people. It is through this constant love-centered interaction among us that the “new earth, the new Heaven, and the new Jerusalem” can begin to come into existence – not at some unknown future time and in some other place, but here and now. In this second reading, taken from Revelation, John shares a vision of nuptial love. When all the former things have passed away and sin and evil are completely overcome, God will welcome the redeemed as a husband welcomes a bride. The love and life that they will share will preclude tears, pain, crying out, mourning and death.
In fact, the coming of Jesus into the world is the signal of a new world order, a new world where God lives among his people. The death of Christ for us and his resurrection is the high point of what we called « God-with-them ». Let us remember that during the triduum in the Holy Week, we have celebrated the institution of the Eucharist and the Priesthood which is the sign of Christ’s presence among his people under the appearances of bread and wine and the priesthood as the institution of his priestly role among the flock to continue his work on earth. That is the beginning of the new earth. The aim is to wipe away the tears of the people that the fall of Adam and Eve has brought about. Once that is achieved, there will be no more death since he has conquered death by his dying on the cross and there will be no more mourning and sadness. God is making the whole of creation new. The missionary work which started with the Apostles as seen in the first reading of today is to bring this message to the ends of the world and to baptise them into the life of the Trinity to make the kingdom come as we pray daily in the Lord’s prayer. What is your own contribution to the making of the new world.
Today’s Gospel passage gives us the secret of Christian renewal as the faithful practice of Jesus’ new commandment: “Love one another as I have loved you” Jesus has added a new element to the Old Testament command of love by telling us that the true test of discipleship is to love other people in the same way that he has loved us. Hence, the renewal of Christian life means a radical change of vision and a reordering of our priorities in life. Such a renewal brings us to embrace new attitudes, new values, and new standards of relating to God, to other people and to our whole environment.
Nowadays, love is a common word today is everyone’s dictionary, but how do we practice that love? Take only a moment to listen to music. Nowadays, people do not love one each other. It is said that « people love the fact of loving instead of loving other people. That could be the reason why they aren’t related to a « concrete person » as the can change partner as they want, because the term of their love is not a related and concrete person.
Do we love our neighbours to the extent of giving up some pleasure to help them. The last judgement according to the Lord will be based on the simple living of the love of God and neighbour, when I was hungry, you gave me to eat; when I was thirsty, you gave me to drink; when I was naked, you clothed me; when I was sick and in prison, you visited….. Now enter into the joys of your Father’s house. Only those who can live in love can live with God in that new Jerusalem that we were told about.