5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
THE CROSS & THE CROWN: SUFFERING & GLORY
The journey of our Christian faith entails so many things, joys and sorrows, pains and peace, sufferings and salvation, struggles and victories. We must have to pass through the crucible of fire to be expunged and purified in order to shine out brightly like gold in the presence of God. The Lord constantly reminds us to carry our Crosses and follow Him daily. Today, in the first reading we are once more reminded that "We all have to experience many hardships before we enter the kingdom of God' (Acts. 14: 21) Christ went through many pains and suffering till He got to the cross and at the cross defeated death and the enemy and triumphantly ascended into heaven. St. Paul reminds us that "we are troubled on every side; yet not distressed. We are perplexed but not in despair; persecuted, but not forsaken; cast down but not yet destroyed, always bearing about in the body the dying of the Lord Jesus, that the life also of Jesus might be made manifest in our body" (2Cor. 4: 8-10) Surely, when Christ told his disciples that he shall not be with them any longer, they were perturbed and troubled but He promised them the Holy Spirit who will strengthen them and be with them. In the midst of all these sufferings, Peter exhorted the church: "beloved, think it not strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened unto you. But rejoice, inasmuch as you are partakers of Christ's sufferings that when his glory shall be revealed, you may be glad also with exceeding joy." (1Pet 4: 12-13) Consequently as the book of Revelation today informs us that these things will eventually pass away and new things will take place. Our tears, sorrows, pains, sufferings, hardships, sickness, deaths and so on will be things of the past and the glory of God will shine upon us. Then we shall see Him face to face in live in His everlasting kingdom of peace. "Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared scars" Khalil Gibran.
BY REV. FR. STEVE OSCAR OKEKE