When Jesus was asked to summarize the ten commandments, He said: “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself.” (Luke 10:27, Cf. Matthew 22:37-40 & Mark 12:29-31). Take note, Jesus said, ‘love your neighbour as yourself’ but now Jesus is saying, ‘love one another as I have loved you.’ While the previous commandment depends on yourself, this new commandment is based on the sacrifice of Jesus on the cross for us. The newness of this commandment is that even if you don’t love yourself, you should try to love others by sacrificing for them.

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Leading others is indeed the most difficult assignment on earth. Without cultivating the habit of personal prayer, no one can ever succeed at it. This is the lesson we learn in today’s first reading. In his prayer, Peter was given a vision wherein he was told not to call anything unclean that God has made clean. He would later understand the meaning of this vision when some men came from Caesarea to fetch him. In the end, a Roman official of high standing, Cornelius along with his entire family was baptized and received the Holy Spirit. This paved the way for the spread of the faith to Rome.

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Our churches in Africa are packed full not because we are converted Christians but because of the prevailing economic situation of our continent. These souls who ate the loaves and fishes were not believers but spectators. A good number of those who fill up seats in our churches today are just spectators. This explains the stark contradiction between our lives and that of Christ. Should it happen that our continent becomes better economically, this mammoth crowd of spectators will leave and only true Christians will remain.

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Sometimes, it is good for us to experience failure so that we may have the opportunity of asking ourselves certain very serious questions. “Am I just trying to make money or am I doing what God brought me to this life to do?”

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St. Paul describes perfectly the whole essence of this Easter joy when he stated: “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory,” (Colossians 3:1-4)

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Washing one’s feet was a task allotted to slaves in the Jewish culture, it was the most humiliating task anyone would do for another. The disciples were shocked. Peter even tried to protest Jesus’ action but Jesus explained: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another's feet. For I have given you an example, that you also should do as I have done to you.” (John 13:14-15).

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I can only imagine the pain Jesus felt in our Gospel passage knowing that someone who shared the same plate with him was going to betray him. This is the pain Jesus feels when we turn God’s house into a money-making enterprise when we tell lies by pronouncing fake prophecies just to gain popularity and wealth.

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What Judas did can be likened to one who receives Holy Communion in the Church only to walk out immediately after mass to commit a mortal sin. Let us examine our hearts. Never assume you have time. Today may just be your last chance to repent.

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Watch out for any form of hatred in your heart. Why do you hate your fellow human being? Is it because of what they did to you or just because they are more popular than you? Could it be because this person is better than you in your workplace or business environment? Rather than trying to bring this person down by all means, why not go to him or her like Nicodemus to learn, why not go and ask them how they are able to do better than you? If they tell you, would you be willing to do it?

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Do I feel threatened by anyone who is doing well in life? In all sincerity, are there certain persons I secretly envy and pray for their downfall because they have become successful or are now far ahead of me? Do I kill through character assassination – bearing false tales about others just to bring them down? Perhaps, I am guilty of the fear of the Jews.

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Let us put ourselves in the shoes of Abraham. You have prayed for something for so many years and it has not come to pass. Would you continue to believe in God? Consider the Jews who were Jesus’ audience, a man in his thirties says to you, “I existed over a thousand years ago.” Would you believe it? It takes the eyes of faith to come to terms with certain truths especially when the visible facts appear to contradict that truth.

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Each of us has a past. You may see yourself as a desert, God is saying, I will make rivers flow from you. You may have gone deep in sin, yet God is saying: “my child, you can still be a Saint.” The God who called a murderer and changed his name from Saul to Paul is the same God we serve.

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