4th Sunday of Easter B - Homily 5

 Homily 5 - 2021

Today’s Second Reading was from a letter of St John; the Gospel was from the Gospel of John. Both texts spoke of the wonderful, abundant love of God. John’s sense of God is consistent. The Gospel of John [not today’s passage] had begun with a reflection on the origin of the world, that it read back to the creative action of the second person of the Trinity [What it first called the Word and then the Christ]. It said there of the Word, the Christ: “Everything came into being through him, and nothing came into being without him”.

“Everything” — fascinating! What does that say about our universe, our natural world, whose existence, whose reality, is the deliberate work of God? The Gospel zoomed in further: “In him, [the Word, the Christ] was life, and the life was the light of humanity … the light which enlightens every human person”.

What does that say about us? To me, our origin, our present reality, speak [or should speak] of the almost unbelievable dignity of every human person … of me, of you, of everyone — whether we realise it or not. Sadly, somehow, the sacredness of our world and of ourselves unbelievably escapes our notice.

The Gospel went on to its wonderful climax. Nothing could stop the ever-developing plan of our undeterrable God: “The Word became flesh and pitched his tent among us” — and still continues to care for us, as we heard in today’s Gospel passage about Jesus, “the Good Shepherd …who lays down his life for his sheep.”

One of the physical laws discovered to be at work in our world states, “To every action, there is an equal and opposite reaction”. John’s Gospel, when speaking of the Christ at work in our universe across the centuries, remarked, “He was in the world, and the world came into being through him, and the world did not recognise him.” Equal and opposite reactions seem often to happen, also in our human world of personal interactions. The Gospel said of Jesus, the Word who eventually, in the fulness of time, became flesh, “He came to his own and his own did not accept him.”

I believe that to learn to see the obvious, to develop a lively sensitivity to the sacredness of ourselves and of the world we live in, we need deliberately to reflect, to pray, preferably to meditate.

Of recent years, a number of people have begun to find voice and to speak up about their experience of discrimination. Among them are increasing numbers of women, First Nations peoples, the disabled and the elderly, those who see themselves rejected on the basis of their sexual orientation… and the list goes on. As they have become increasingly sensitive to their plight, they have grown into recognisable and organised groups within the community. Unfortunately, as might be expected, since they no longer can be ignored, opposition is becoming also more vocal and organised.

As I see it, our only hope of general resolution lies in more of us becoming aware of the sacredness of personal human dignity and learning to act and interact accordingly. Anything else deals only with symptoms — whether it be majority wins, the loudest or most troublesome, the best organised, or whatever. As disciples of Jesus, at least we should give the example of learning to listen to people whom we spontaneously disagree with, on whatever side they are on, and to hear what they have to say; and to learn also to say what we think, respectfully enough to have some likelihood of being heard. Our reasoning may be right; it may be wrong; more probably it may be a mixture of right and wrong.

Conversion is learning to love those we disagree with. God does.