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Sunday, May 06, 2018

God is love says Fr Dzungwe

Love is not a strange word in our society today. It is in fact a force that controls the world. It is the most used word and the most abused as well. To love therefore means different things to different people. In almost all its usage, it does convey a shallow meaning. Thus when  a young guy tells a lady “I love you” it immediately trigger a different thing in the mind of the lady and vice versa. Love is easily misconstrued in our time. The readings of today as we celebrate this sixth Sunday of Easter draws our mind to Love and sets before us the ideal lover of all ages-Jesus.

What then becomes love and what does it take to love? The readings of the day offers us some tips. Beginning with the gospel of the day, Jesus says “ As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you, abide in my love”(Jn 15:9). What then is this love of Jesus that we must abide in it? It is selfless love and undeserving. Though Jesus was worthy of the love of the Father in all ramifications because he abided in the Father, we on our part cannot say we deserve that same love from the Son; for we continue to sin against him. Even at that he keeps loving us.

Therefore, we must learn here that love is not given to those who deserve it but those who do not in our judgments deserve to be loved. God loves us not because we are holy, but even in our sinfulness he still loves us, expecting our conversion that we may be saved. Hence, to convert a sinner is not to stand aloof and condemn him or her but is to go close to the person show some love and through that conversion will be easily achieved. Let us learn to love unconditionally.

Secondly, love demands sacrifice. Jesus says “...Greater love has no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friend” (John 15:13). This is the highest form of love humanity has ever experienced. St. Paul will say “It is difficult to die for a good man not to talk of a bad man” (Romans 5:7), yet Jesus sacrificed his life for unworthy sinners like us. Thus, sacrifice becomes very important when we talk of love.

If we love we must learn to sacrifice selfishness for generosity, greed for contempt, hatred for love, gossip for admonishment, lies for truth, immaturity for maturity, materialism for fulfillment, individualism for communal life, bad governance for purposeful driven leadership, insecurity for security, laziness for hard work, indecency to decency, poor parenting for diligent parenting and lots more. Individually we must identify that which we must sacrifice for the sake of Christ. So I ask, what is my love for Christ costing me?

As such, our love must exceed lips service and find expression in action. To love then will be to offer prayers for a brother and sister in need of it, to give comforting words to those in need of it, to visit the sick, clothe the naked, make the homeless sheltered, heal those broken by poverty and their likes.
My brothers and sisters, this love also demands total obedience. It is the proof that we love God. Hence Jesus’ words “You are my friends if you do what I command you” (15:14). The question could be, are we really doing the things he has commanded us to do? Are we faithfully obeying him in the various capacities that he has called us to serve him? What has become of the world were sin reigns more than righteousness yet our streets are quiet because all have gone to church? We have to learn to love God in obedience. Obeying the laws of the land, obeying our elders, respecting human life, holding high the dignity of the human person and obeying values that makes life worth living makes us a loving people.

When we do this it shows we know God. Hence a good knowledge of God helps us to be called his friends. For it is only friends that knows the secrets of each other. As such, Jesus has revealed himself to those who loved him; who will love him, those that are loving him now and are ever ready to do his will; to these he will continue to reveal himself. Hence, anybody that “Loves is born of God and knows God. He who does not love does not know God; for God is love “(1 Jn 4:7-8). I therefore need to question my knowledge of God if I cannot love a brother or sister.

For this knowledge of God distinguishes us from the world and that explains why the world will hate lovers of Christ. Thus, if the world is so comfortable with us, if people are more comfortable clubbing than coming to church, if people are interested more in social activities than seminars or retreat that are organised to enhance our relationship with God, then, we should know that we are loving the world more than the creator of the world. Thus our love of Christ should clearly distinguish us in the world.

We pray for the grace to love the same way God loves us so that we shall do what is expected of us as his children through Christ our Lord Amen. May the souls of our brothers Frs Joseph Gor and Felix Tyolaha with their companions who loved Christ to the end, rest in peace amen. HAPPY SUNDAY.

*Courtesy: Rev. Fr Simon Peter Dzungwe, who contributed from Ibadan, being a homily for the Sixth Sunday of Easter, Year B. (Acts 10:25-26,34-35,44-48; 1 John 4:7-10; John 15:9-17).

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