The main message of the readings of this fifth Sunday of Easter is to choose the essential. Christ is the essential; the proclamation of the gospel is the priority for the church. As Saint Augustine said, we should proclaim the Gospel by our actions and by our words if necessary.
In the first reading, the way members of the first Christian community went about solving their conflicts deserves our attention. The first Christians were united, they shared their material possessions so that everyone could get what he or she needed. However, as the Christian community grew larger, conflicts arose. This was because the large community of Christian was made of people from different cultures, and those who distributed things favored some members of the community over others. The material things were no longer distributed according to the needs of each member of the community, but according to the preferences of those who did the distribution. It is not surprising to hear that some people were unhappy about the situation.
Inspired by the Holy spirit, the apostles suggested the assembly of all disciples to choose seven deacons who would care for the material needs of all the members of the Christian community while the apostles continue the proclamation of the Gospel. This was how the ministry of diaconate started. Even today, the main role of deacons is to make sure that material needs of Christians, especially the poor and marginalized, are satisfied. The fact that the apostles said: “It is not right for us to neglect the word of God to serve at table” makes us realize that Christ was their priority. For them, nothing was more important than the proclamation of the gospel.
Our communities are facing problems like those of the first Christians. For instance, it is not unusual for employers to decide whom to employ or whom to give an internship based on their regional, ethnic, or other preferences. We should learn from the decision of the apostles that the solution to those problems is to make Christ our priority. When our priority is Christ and not material things, we will be able to see in each one of our brothers and sisters the dignity of a human being and we will treat them accordingly.
In the gospel, when Jesus was asking his disciples to put their trust in Him, Philip said to Him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us. “This shows us that, like us, some of the disciples of Christ had difficulties to believe in His words. This is because, some of the disciples wanted signs to believe in Jesus. Instead of asking for signs to believe, we should seek to understand in order to believe and believe in order to understand. The way this world is organized makes it hard for us Christian to put our trust in Christ who is the living stone. We should pray and ask Christ to grant us the grace to believe in Him because whoever believes in Him should not be put to shame. He will take us from our darkness and bring us to His wonderful light.
In those few lines, I hope to have shared with you what I kept from the homily in the 6:30 AM Mass preached by Reverend Alain Amani, deacon in Schoenstatt Fathers Community at Mont Sion Gikungu. Note that the main celebrant was Father Jean Marie Bisimwa, Isch.
By Christa Ishimwe