5th Sunday of Easter: “We Proclaim His Excellencies!”
Acts 7: 55-60
Psalm 31: 1-5; 15-16
1 Peter 2: 4-10
John 14: 1-14
I salute all the great mothers whose vocation is among the best in the world. These days during quarantine, they seem to be outdoing themselves and they are doing a great job! May God honor them and reward them with the fullness of His blessings.
Israel was the name given by God to Jacob after he wrestled with an angel, who represented God. Israel means one who wrestled with God. Israel wrestled with who God is. Sometimes, it was difficult for them to understand God especially that during those times when they only got glimpses of truth and revelation from the Father.
In Exodus 34:6-7, it says in one verse: God is compassionate, gracious, slow to anger, abounding in lovingkindness, and forgives sin; and yet He punishes the guilty and visits the iniquity of fathers on children, grandchildren and the next generation. To be honest, we ask, “Is God forgiving or does He punish the guilt of those who sin?” Morality is according to God. If God does it, whether it is good or not, it is okay; but if man does something, it is either good or evil. St. Paul says that Jesus is not a yes or no, but yes. Is God good? Yes! Is God gracious? Yes! Does God forgive? Yes! He is our Amen.
God is not unforgiving or He is not the cause of man’s sickness or death. He did not send Corona virus, and we know this because Jesus healed who are sick. He doesn’t kill people but raises people who are dead. We know that God the Father is like Jesus because Jesus is the exact representation of the Father. There is no confusion in this.
Hebrews 1:1 said, “God, who gave our forefathers many different glimpses of the truth in the words of the prophets, has now, at the end of the present age, given us the truth in the Son.” John1 says that Jesus has explained the Father. He has made God known in a full and perfect way. The Father is like Jesus such that when Philip asked, “Show us the Father,” Jesus replied by saying, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” This is how we know that God doesn’t send sickness or cause death because Jesus doesn’t send sickness or death. What we know of God is what we have seen in Jesus – who gives life and even lays His own life for our sake so that we will have life. Jesus would rather die for His enemies than kill them.
Fr. Richard Rohr said, “Jesus didn’t come to change mind of God about humanity; He came to change the mind of humanity about God. Instead of us needing to spill blood to get to God (which is our own understanding), we have God’s spilling His own blood to get us.” God’s spilled His own blood to give life to us and to reconcile us to Him.
St. Paul belonged to the people who were confused before and they thought they had it all figured out with a system of theology. Paul witnessed Stephen dying and uttering his last words, “Lord Jesus, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing.” This could have been so impressed in St. Paul’s life and could have led to his conversion among others. The God he knew punished and sentenced people to death.
We can know God now through Jesus Christ. He is the Way, the Truth and the Life. Jesus in definition is eternal life. Knowing God is eternal life. We were created to have that intimate relationship and knowledge and the fellowship with our Father, through His Son.
Jesus used certain language in the gospel in John 14. He said, “In My Father’s house, there are many dwelling places.” In some Bible translations, it says, “many mansions.” Sadly, many Christians think that this is a physical reward, a geographical heaven. Jesus used the metaphor of location to express relationship. Dwelling place means fellowship and intimate relationship with God. Jesus is inviting us to dwell with the Father in His abode.
In this Cathedral, we have a Corporate Prayer for our property and the facilities to build in it, and it says, “a dwelling place to all generations.” Whether He puts us here or elsewhere, God will be our dwelling place forever. It doesn’t matter where as long as we have this fellowship with Him. Jesus uses domestic lingo to express the Father’s will for us to be back home, to be in fellowship with Him. It is just like it was with the gracious father and the prodigal son. The place Jesus goes to prepare is a position in God’s family and household.
A young couple in love and who are engaged may say to each other, “We don’t care where we live as long as we are together.” The parents of the daughter, as an advice would say, “Where will you live? Can your love for each other feed you and give you a place to live in? Our goal is not to have a house, but to belong to a home, a family. The house is not necessarily a home. Home is not a structure like the house; home is where there is relationship among its family members. A shanty can be home sweet home unlike a mansion that can be considered hell when no love and relationship exists.
In Ephesians 2, St. Paul said, “Formerly you were excluded in the household of God; but now you belong.” Eternal life is not something we secure legally by satisfying requirements of a grumpy God. It is not a status, but something we grow in by being in and by experiencing family relationship with God.
Marriage is the best metaphor for God and man. Our motive to enter in this marriage is not to be officially married to someone for status or financial security like a gold-digger. We are not after the groom’s house but we are after being with Him, a marriage to Him – a relationship with Him. The right motive is to live together in bond of love and commitment and grow in knowledge of our spouse in the relationship. When we discover this, we get the fullness of its benefits.
1Peter 2:9 says, “We are a chosen race, royal priesthood, holy nation, a people who belong to God.” We are God’s family. We are God’s household? For what purpose? Not to be the elite and say that we are set apart; We are to proclaim His name that we have taken on, and to proclaim the character of His family – the excellencies, the grace, the benefits of Christ’s victory over death, the abundant life available so that others may be drawn and also join.
God’s household is of faith, hope, joy, peace; the world is the opposite. Our task is to help the world get out of its darkness leading them into God’s marvelous light and into His family. We are called not to be exclusive but to be inclusive. The desire of God is for us to come into repentance to be included in His family. As Christians, as sons of God, we are ambassadors of reconciliation. We reconcile those who do not know God Whose arms are waiting to receive anyone who would come to Him. Children of God participate in this ministry, and they discover the joy because this is the way it is in the kingdom of our God.