|SUNDAY HOMILIES FOR YEAR A|
|By Fr Munachi E. Ezeogu, cssp|
|Homily for the Third Sunday of Easter - On the Epistle|
Our Time of Exile
|Acts 2:14,22-28||1 Peter 1:17-21||Luke 24:13-35|
An American tourist goes to see the famous Polish rabbi Hofetz Chaim. He enters the rabbi’s
house and is astonished to see that the rabbi lives in a simple room filled with books, a table and a
bench. He asks him, “Rabbi, where is your furniture?”
Today’s second reading, taken from the 1st Letter of Peter, is addressed to Jewish Christians who were dispersed in Gentile lands on account of persecution. "Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To the exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia" (1 Peter 1:1). Peter is writing to encourage these Christians to be steadfast in the faith and to advise them on how to conduct themselves during the time of their exile. Peter’s message, however, is not for Jewish Christians alone. It is for all Christians since, as Peter says, all Christians are in exile in so far as they still live in this world.
The text opens with Peter reminding his readers of one cardinal point of the Christian faith and the implication this should have in their daily lives. "If you invoke as Father the one who judges all people impartially according to their deeds, live in reverent fear during the time of your exile" (1 Peter 1:17). Faith and daily life are two sides of the same coin. Faith that does not affect life is useless, and life that does not follow from faith is futile. Peter reminds the exiles that since they invoke God as the Father of all humankind, who judges all people not according to their nationality, not according to their wealth, not according to their learning or social status, not even according to their religion, but according to their deeds, then they should put their feeling of religious superiority aside and live in reverent fear and humility together with the Gentiles among whom they have settled. The same message applies to all Christians because, spiritually speaking, our life on earth is an exile. The God we worship is a merciful Father, but also an impartial judge. We should, therefore, live our lives in referent fear of God, the kind of fear you have for people you really love and respect that makes you not want to offend them. Reverential fear is different from servile file, which is the fear of being caught and punished, like the fear that slaves have for their abusive masters.
Does this advice for Christians to accept people of other faiths, cultures and societies mean that there is no difference between Christians and non-Christians. By no means! Peter proceeds immediately to remind his Christian readers of the special grace they have received from God.
Unlike their ancestors, who used perishable things like silver or gold or the blood of a lamb to make atonement for their sins, Christians have been ransomed by the precious blood of Christ, the son of God. God raised him from the dead and glorified him. For this we can trust in God and set our hope in Him and not in length of life or abundance of worldly comfort and possessions. “Through him you have come to trust in God, who raised him from the dead and gave him glory, so that your faith and hope are set on God” (Verse 21).
As we celebrate the resurrection of our Lord Jesus Christ from the dead, the Church today invites us, through the words of Peter, to go beyond mere belief, to let our belief affect our lives. Specifically we are invited to realise the fact that we are pilgrims on earth, that our real home is in heaven with God our Father, and that that is where we should lay up our treasures and not on earth.
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