Members of God's Kingdom
Homily for Wednesday of the Third Week in Easter
Just now, as the media continues to focus on the forthcoming coronation of King Charles III, some people who have received invitations to the event are surprised to find their name on the guest list. For instance, one vicar of a small Anglican parish that lies three and a half hours outside of London was invited because of his parish’s role in providing food for poor people during the recent pandemic. The members of his parish community are also excited to realize that their efforts were the reason for the invitation. It is clear that after an extended time of suffering because of the coronavirus, the British people are filled with joy about the coronation.
The situation that existed in the early community of Jerusalem was also quite dire. One of the leaders of the church, Stephen, had just been put to death. Believers have been displaced from their homes and separated from one another. Threats of imprisonment lurk menacingly around every corner. Yet the apostles and other believers continue to go about preaching the word, as the author of the Acts of the Apostles writes.
While it is quite easy to understand why the members of an Anglican parish find joy in the invitation of their pastor, where does the joy that seems evident in the Christian community come from. How can they persevere in preaching the word with joy when doing so may result in their death?
We need look no further for an answer than in today’s Gospel passage. After proclaiming himself to be the Bread of Life, Jesus goes on to explain the will of God, which is that all who believe become members of the kingdom of God. God desires salvation for every person on earth.
This is cause for immense joy! This is truly “Good News” which the early believers understood and couldn’t help but share with others, no matter what threats they have received. Jesus has expanded their view of God. He has told them that God is always, unfailingly, overwhelmingly “for us.” As we turn to the Eucharist today, we too are filled with joy as we experience God who continually wills our good and eagerly longs for our salvation.