CHOSEN TO RUN THE RACE ON THE WAY TO THE TRUTH, AND THE LIFE! HOMILY FOR THE 5TH SUNDAY OF EASTER (YEAR A) Rev. Fr. Boniface Nkem Anusiem Ph.D.

RUNNING OUT OF DARKNESS

What you choose in life determine a lot about your future; that is why we must choose wisely Furthermore, there must always be a reason or reasons for every choice we make in life. We could make choices among alternatives, people or events could choose us among others; and God chooses us in accordance to His will and design (John 15:16).

Today we are reflecting on divine choice and its implications for our lives. The Second Reading (1 Pet.2:4-9) among other things says:

You are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people of his own, so that you may announce the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.

God is too gracious to us. Our life as humans is all thanks to God’s kindness and love. God could have made us ants, trees, or any other phenomenon. However, it pleased Him to allow us to have a share in His image and likeness (Gen.1:27). This is a divine choice.

Beyond this privilege, God wants us to be united with Him forever after this life, and that explains the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ to repair the relationship between God and us and to show us the way to eternal life (10:10b).

God calls and chooses (Matt. 22:14). This divine choice is what St. Peter tries to explain in that part of the Second Reading we presented above. God did not choose us because we are qualified, but He intends to qualify us through this choice leveraging on our cooperation. God chose us to become His own and to deliver us from darkness to light; from death to life; from nowhere to somewhere; from nobody to somebody.

God’s choice for us is not an end itself, but a means towards an end. We have instances where the chosen of God misuses the choice; King Saul is a very dependable example of a choice that went bad (1 Sam. 15: 11ff).

Let us reflect on St. Peter’s exhortation on divine choice which directly recalls the oracle of Isaiah (43:20b-21). Peter began by saying that we are a chosen race. One would ask which race? We know that race is descriptive of people with common characteristics which differentiates them from other people.

By race, we do not mean people who are differentiated by color or other physical characteristics. We understand race here as pointing to individuals who bear the mark of Christ. Furthermore, and more significantly, it refers to those who are on the heavenly journey (race). Yes! We are running a race, and we are specially chosen for this race as St. Paul confirms in his letter to the Corinthians (1 Cor.9:24).

To run a race, we need to be on track; if you like the right way. In the Gospel Reading today, our Lord said that He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. From these three phenomena, we see clearly the enabling elements for the race.

Those chosen for the race need to run through a way. There are indeed many ways in our world today, but there is only one way; also, known as THE WAY. Our Lord made it clear that he is THE WAY (John 14:6). The way is the new life in Christ; the route to eternal life which is, however, narrow (Matt. 7:14) We could recall that the post-resurrection disciples of Jesus Christ were accused and persecuted for following the WAY (Acts 22:4; 24:14). Running the race as chosen people means following the Way, namely our Lord Jesus Christ. The Way leads to two other important realities; the truth and the life.

Our Lord also declared that he is the truth. In the dialogue with Pilate, Jesus Christ told him that he came to bear witness to the truth (John 18:37-38). The truth is one essential element that the world does not want to hear because it often convicts and chastises. In a world running currently on the wheels of political correctness, the truth is suffering while lies are becoming daily norms.

We need the truth as well as those who will speak the truth in season and out of season. We need the truth as well as truth speaker in our families, in our communities, in the church, and in the world. The greatest truth is that God loves us and desires our salvation if we but believe in Him and live uprightly.

Finally, our Lord Jesus Christ declares himself the Life. There are various walks of life, and people head towards different directions in life. There is the material life and the spiritual life. It is very unfortunate that in our world today many lives are materially driven, and few have the spiritual orientation.

Many people are more attentive to the nourishment of their bodies to the nourishment of their souls. We obey our physicians to the letter when we receive medical advice, but we tend to disregard the prescriptions for our souls especially the ones that tell us to go and sin no more (John 8:11) and to bear good fruits (Gal. 5:22-23).

Today, we have the invitation as the chosen ones to run the race on the Way of Truth and Life. God is ready to provide us with grace for the race. Like the seven deacons in the First Reading today (Acts 6:1-7), we have the encouragement to become servants in this race which is not all that rosy. He who has called us is faithful and would not fail the people He has chosen for Himself (2 Tim.2:13).

As you continue on this race, keep your eye on the prize (Phil 3:14) and God’s grace will remain sufficient for you. As our Lord advised in the Gospel Reading, do not let your hearts be troubled; run the race by faith not by sight (2 Cor. 5:7).

Have a grace-full Sunday and as a chosen one on the way to the truth and the life may your strength increase.

Fr. Bonnie.

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