That our life becomes one with our faith 6th Easter Sunday 2018 B

Friends, in today's opening prayer, we pray that our lives become one with our faith. In the ordination prayer to the priesthood, the ordinand is charged to live as he preaches. When it is seen that one is not living as one teaches, the person is accused of hypocrisy. It emphasizes the importance of living as we learn. Therefore, we may ask what this really means. Can anyone really live as she or he's teaches? When I reflect on my life, I can only say that I do not always live as I preach, but I try hard to do so. Human nature is the same. It has not changed since creation. Apostle Paul was very aware of how hard it is to live as one learns when he says the things he wanted to do, he could not, but the things he did not want he did. This means that nobody will probably succeed in living up to their good expectations. When I as a priest tell people that I do not always live as I teach, people usually wonder and seem to give the impression as if they thought I am perfect. But I usually explain that no human being can live 100% as they learn. With the idea that nobody is a superman, I cannot live always as I learn I must say with all honesty and humility. By nature, we have limitations. For example, praying Completorium is often difficult for me yet I have committed myself as a priest to doing so. However, I never demand anyone else to do what I do what I do not do myself. My goal is to become a witness of Christ in love and truth to all people. So long the will exists, there is hope that I will always make progress on this journey.

Most people think they live as they teach. I have an acquaintance who always says he never says he never does or say anything wrong. For the past 20 years I have known him, he has never accepted that he was wrong in anything. He always says he is right. Of course, it is not hard for me to see that he is blind to human nature and has very little knowledge about himself. His is a terrible blindness. Although this acquaintance is an extreme case, he represents how many unconsciously deceive themselves in ignorant certainty. This blindness I see in many people who do not understand reality. Some may be blind to facts and content with their own opinions and preconceived opinions about the world, about reality, about God. Our vocation is to express in our lives the love or reality we celebrate.

Hans Rosling (1948-2017) was Professor of International Health at Karolinska Institutet. He was also co-founder of the Gapminder Foundation, and an enormously appreciated researcher and public educator. Gapminder can remind us of the gap between facts and opinions, what we teach and how we live while it can also illustrate how we relate to reality and preconceived ideas. In Hans Rosling probably first TED Talk, he statistically showed how he proved that Swedish top students know statistically significantly less about the outside world than the Chimpanzees do. He believed that the problem was not ignorance but preconceived ideas. Statistics about the world, he means is often better than we think. During the last year of his life, he worked in parallel with two books. Factfulness, written with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund, is about why people have difficulty understanding the world and it came out this spring 2018.

‘How I learned to understand the world’ is Hans Rosling's memoirs. When people are asked questions about global trends, we almost always give the wrong answers. College students, business leaders, Nobel laureates and senior politicians – all are beaten in this by monkeys at the zoo. How come? In Factfulness, Hans Rosling, together with Ola Rosling and Anna Rosling Rönnlund, show why we constantly misunderstand the world's development and how we can do to correct our common misunderstandings. We have anxious attitude towards news and assume that things get worse over time. Most of us do not defend opinions based on facts but on preconceived notions. Hans Rosling argues for a more fact-oriented approach to the world. Today, if we do the same research on people's relationship with God and religion, we will see that most people today are illiterates about God and of religion and live on preconceived ideas in their faith and unbelief.

Jesus declared to the religious leaders of his time why God had rejected them: "Isaiah prophesied clearly about you hypocrites, as it is written, 'This people honour me with their lips, but their heart is far away from me.'" They did not cry out to the Lord with their whole heart. If we try to make our lives one with our faith, we will appreciate event that today in Caesarea when Peter entered Cornelius's house. God welcomes all people. In David, there is both Jewish and gentile blood.

We read in today's first reading about Peter's visit to Cornelius (Acts 10: 25-26, 34-35, 44-48). This story has several interesting parts. Jews were not allowed interact with non-Jews and even Jews whom society regarded as a sinner. Therefore, it was a great surprise for all the guests in Cornelius's house when Peter came. More so, they were puzzled and shocked when they experienced the outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon them. God does not love us because we are good, that's not what he expects. He loves us because he is good. A secure future lies only in God. He who has planned a future filled with peace, love and joy for those who receive the Holy Ghost. In the Latin rite, the sacrament of baptism is given before confirmation. In today's text, the people in Caesarea received the gift of the Spirit before baptism. Here we can see that the order of the sacraments is not necessarily the most important.

When Cornelius threw himself reverently at Peter's feet, it was not for Peter as a person but because Peter obeyed an authority that Cornelius acknowledges. The event reveals that God does not make distinction amongst people. To all who call upon him, God hears and answers. God extends the gift of the Holy Ghost over the Gentiles who spoke in tongues and praised him.

The Holy Spirit is an expression of God's love for us. We are created for love. "The greatest water cannot extinguish love, streams cannot drain it." The most important thing in life is to be in Jesus and not in oneself. We have difficulty giving and receiving love. Most problems that plague people originate in this lack of confidence in love and refusal to live in truth. Only by learning to know the love of God and believing in it, can a human being truly live in peace, the greatest gift of all. Spiritual growth is nothing but to become deeply conscious and convinced of God's love. Sin is to shut up and reject God's love, which is rejecting reality. Sin manifests itself through, for example, lies, delusions, prejudices about others, lovelessness in thoughts and actions. These have their roots in closing doors and refusing to receive God's love. Evil is also missing the mark, false attitude toward the realization of one's own self.

Love comes from God and the one who loves is born of God. This is the message we hear in today's second reading (1Joh 4: 7-10). The word love is perhaps the most used and the most abused word in the world. Interpretation and misunderstanding of this word are the reasons for lack of confidence and trust in the word of God. Sinful and harmful desires cannot be classified as love. Some claim living according to their desires and lusts is to live in accordance with true human. This is far from the truth because the measure of true humanity is Christ himself who came as human. God's love is self-offering, one love that sacrifices for the other, agape. Therefore, the only way to love is to live in God. The word love is without meaning devoid of God and does not exist without him. Loving in this context is the same as preserving the word of God, it is under his authority. Only by holding the word of God can Someone stand under his authority and thus remain in the love of God. Of course, this means living as one is created, open to the creator of the human person.

Living as one is created means to be able to listen to God's voice. In order to make it easier for us to live as human beings, God sent His Son, who became human. Through this, God has shown that being human is nothing beneath His dignity. Through this, God demonstrates that he is interested in humanity and identifies with herself. In this context, we can say that Christ is at the same time the way to God and the way to fellow human beings. If it is true that he is the way to fellow human beings, then it means that in order for a person to understand another human being in one’s depth, the path goes through Christ. So, we need someone who meets us from the depths of Christ. No one can come to God's depths who does not go through Jesus.

It is only practice that interests Jesus and it is only practice that brings you to eternal life (Luke 10:28). In depth, the other is always our brother, and our sister, and it is in this depth we can truly love. Love is the only transforming force in the world. The love we Christians believe in is no ideology. Therefore, it would be regrettable if Christian people hate fellow human beings so that they themselves can feel better. God is not remote, indifferent and unavailable. God wants us in all our actions to be driven by a good intention. The good intention is always love. Even if an act merely "technically" fails, it's still fundamentally good if it's love that drives you to it. It is love that gives your actions their most important quality. This quality is more valuable than the effectiveness of the action. God knows that human reason is limited, that we will make mistakes and many times too. We must do as good as we can, and the rest will rest on God. Such trust gives enormous freedom. Love never is lost. Loving is never in vain.

Christ's mentioning the apostles, sinners and sick shows that salvation does not rule out any group of people. Without one's own merit, Christ has chosen us and sent us to go out into the world to bear fruit. When we are in the word of God then we can have the Holy Spirit in the name of Jesus. We Christians are called to as much as possible make our lives become one with our faith. This is a daily struggle for me. I purposefully strive to follow Christ daily. Chikezie Onuoha MSP.

Webbdesign: Peter Tynkkynen