The Burden of Love! – Sunday Synopsis

Justine John Dyikuk

Justine John Dyikuk

Shikrot Mpwi – Sunday Synopsis with Fr. Justine J. Dyikuk                                                                                    Fifth Sunday of Easter, Year C – May 15, 2022.

Readings: Acts 14:21-27; Ps 145:8-9.10-11.12-13; Rev. 21:1-5a & Gospel – John 13:31-33a.34-35.

The first reading recounts how Paul and Barnabas went round Lystra, Iconium and Antioch encouraging the faithful to persevere in the face of persecution. In the second reading, as usual John in his apocalypse sees the new heaven and new earth – the holy city, the New Jerusalem. He explains that there, God makes his home among humans as he is their God and they his people as there are no human afflictions like tears, dead, sadness or pain because he will make a new creation. The gospel reading narratives how after the departure of Judas, Jesus told his companions that the Son of Man would be glorified. After disclosing his impending passion, he gave them a new commandment with the charge to love one another as he has loved them. Even in the face of contemporary opposition and persecution, Christians are charged to love everyone, unconditionally.

Introduction

Friends in Christ, on this Sunday, our liturgy challenges on the demands of love. Titled “The Burden of Love,” our reflection highlights five responsibilities of the Christian life namely, following Jesus’ commandment of love, practicing prayer, readiness to accept suffering for the sake of Christ, embracing the challenge to serve the community through the recognition of everyone as a disciple of Christ and proclaiming Christ without fear or favour.

Background & Summary of the Readings

The first reading (Acts 14:21-27) recounts how Paul and Barnabas went round Lystra, Iconium and Antioch encouraging the faithful to persevere in the face of persecution. They noted that hardship is a necessary condition to enjoying eternal life. For continuity and strengthening of the faith, they appointed elders through prayer and fasting, commending them to the Lord. Traversing through Pisidia, Pamphylia, Perga and Attalia, they carried out their missionary mandate in love despite the troubles; they assembled the faithful and told how they opened the door of faith to the gentiles.

In the second reading (Rev. 21:15a), as usual John in his apocalypse sees the new heaven and new earth – the holy city, the New Jerusalem. explains that there, God makes his home among humans as he is their God and they his people as there are no human afflictions like tears, dead, mourning, sadness or pain because he will make a new creation; he maintains that what he is saying is trustworthy and would come true.

The gospel reading (John 13:31-33a.34-35) narratives how after the departure of Judas, Jesus told his companions that the Son of Man would be glorified. After revealing his impending passion, he gave them a new commandment with the charge to love one another as he has loved them noting: “It is by your love for one another, that everyone will recognize you as my disciples.” The question is, what is the connection between his death and the new commandment? This leads us to the burden of love story.

The Burden of Love: A Narrative

The story is told of a boy who had three major challenges – He was a dwarf, had a hunchback and could not walk. Because of these disabilities, his younger brother had to always carry him to school. Each time they were going to school, all eyes were on them. The pathetic side of the story was that, other pupils usually boo at them on their way to school.

One day, they were late to school and the younger brother had to increase his steps to catch up with the 7:45 am School Assembly. But because his older brother was heavy, he could not keep a good pace. Other pupils who came running started jeering at them again. This time around, one of them said: “What a burden you are carrying.” The smiling young man replied: “He is not a burden, he is my brother.” This touching story reveals the burden of love.

Practical Lessons

  1. Persevere in the Face of Persecution: The encouraging message of Paul and Barnabas to the Christian communities in Lystra, Iconium and Antioch that they should persevere in the face of persecution should serve as a boaster to contemporary Christians who are constantly taunted for their faith as it is happening now in our country bearing in mind that nothing can be compared to the crown of glory we shall receive at the end of time as evident in the apocalypse of John in the second reading.
  2. Open the Door of Faith to Others: By opening the door of faith to the gentiles, the apostles teach us how to open new vistas for others who have not yet heard the Good News based on the Great Commission in Matthew 28:16-20.
  3. Beware of Mundane Trappings: In a world where prosperity gospel and materialism have supplanted the preaching of repentance and salvation, Christians are tasked to beware of mundane trappings while accepting suffering for the sake of Christ.
  4. Fulfil Your Mission: We are challenged to serve our various communities through the recognition of everyone as a disciple of Christ who is charged with the responsibility of fulfilling his or her own mission in life.
  5. Proclaim Christ without Fear or Favour: Above all, we are reminded that standing up for Christ has its own troubles which we must embrace happily in order to proclaim him without fear or favour.

Summary Lines

  1. The first reading recounts how Paul and Barnabas went round Lystra, Iconium and Antioch encouraging the faithful to persevere in the face of persecution.
  2. In the second reading, as usual John in his apocalypse sees the new heaven and new earth – the holy city, the New Jerusalem.
  3. He explains that there, God makes his home among humans as he is their God and they his people as there are no human afflictions like tears, dead, mourning, sadness or pain because he will make a new creation.
  4. The gospel reading narratives how after the departure of Judas, Jesus told his companions that the Son of Man would be glorified.
  5. After revealing his impending passion, he gave them a new commandment with the charge to love one another as he has loved them.

Conclusion

We have established that love is a burden yet, a sweet yoke. As such, the Church invites us to follow Jesus’ commandment of love, embrace the practice of prayer, accept suffering for the sake of Christ, serve the community through the recognition of everyone as a disciple of Christ and proclaim him without fear or favour. This can only come about if we truly love God and our neighbour. May we like the little boy in our lead story see beyond the burden of our daily lives and embrace the values of the kingdom with love so as to gain eternal life. Amen. Have a fabulous week ahead!

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