Homily for Friday of the Sixth Week in Easter
“Follow me.” Two simple yet powerful words used by Jesus to call his followers.
St. Paul followed Jesus’ summons all over the known world proclaiming to all who would listen the good news that Jesus the Christ was risen from the dead. Today, we hear how his own people accused him before the Roman governor just as Jesus was accused before Pilate. St. Paul eventually was imprisoned and martyred in Rome by Nero.
Simon Peter followed Jesus preaching and healing in the name of the risen Lord. Although he spent most of his life close to home, he eventually ended up in Rome as well where he, too, was martyred by the same cruel Emperor.
Down through the ages, countless numbers of people were put to death for their faith. Just last week, Pope Francis announced that 21 Coptic Orthodox Christians beheaded by the Islamic State in Libya in 2015 are now recognized as martyrs by the Vatican. He revealed the move during a meeting with Pope Tawadros II of the Coptic Orthodox Church, and said he was doing so with Tawadros' consent.
All this week, our Gospel readings have been about Jesus preparing his disciples for both his passion and death and the time when he would no longer be with them. He told them that these would not be easy days for them, but he also assures them that they will find joy at the end of their trials, the joy of a reunion with him.
We also look forward to the day when we will be reunited with our Creator, our Redeemer, and of the Spirit who sanctifies us. Though we may be called upon to suffer in this life, we have been assured by the risen Lord Jesus that our joy will be complete. As we celebrate this Eucharist, let us give thanks for the gift that we have received through our loving God.