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Friday, 6 May 2016

Reflection/Homily: Seventh (7th) Sunday of Easter Year C

Theme: “That they may all be One”
There is this story of an African Sage who at his moment of death convoked a gathering of all his children. He asked each one of them to come with a stick of broom and in turn told them to break the stick of broom. When they all broke what they had, he asked them to get a bunch of broom each and break them. They tried their best but could not break any of them. The man replied: “United you can never be defeated but on your own, you can offer no resistance to defeat”. 

The moral of this story is probably what motivated Jesus’ prayer for the unity of his apostles in the Gospel reading (John 17:20-26). Jesus knew that after his ascension, that there would be several oppositions against his disciples. He never wanted any of them to work on his own to avoid defeat. He wanted them to remain united in the exercise of their ministry just as he is united with the father. According to Jesus, this oneness of his apostles is a proof of their oneness with God.

Jesus’ prayer strengthens us at this moment he is no longer physically present with us though he is still with us spiritually – in the Church, the Word, the Sacraments, in our neighbours, etc. It assures us of the abiding grace of God around us and motivates us to work towards the actualization of Christ’s prayer that we may all be one. Through the presentation of this reading, the Church reminds us that we are not orphans because our Lord and master is no longer with us physically. Instead, he is with us spiritually each time we gather as members of one family in his name.

Jesus knew what was going to befall him and how the faith of the Apostles would be shaken. To keep his apostles on the safer side, he prayed for them, asking his Father to grant that they may remain united. In our moments of danger, temptation, vocation or business crises, have we prayed for God’s grace to abide in us or do we relax presuming God’s grace since He knows all things and is equally a loving Father? This challenges us to resort to prayer whenever we sense any danger. But the question remains, each time we experience crisis of all sorts capable of tearing us apart, how much effort do we make to remain united?

Unity is one of the marks that characterized the Catholic Church right from her earliest days. This unity has always been expressed in two dimensions: unity of thought and unity of action. The early Christians were united in their Christian thoughts and actions such that they could develop certain articles of faith and codes of moral conducts to guide them. Today, most families lack this gift of unity which Christ prayed for and that is why they are gullible. We see families being torn apart by divorce, violence and hatred and this affects the Church which is made up of these families.

Even among Christian Churches, we experience jealousy, rancor, greed, avarice, etc. tearing Churches and ministers apart. The Christian Churches should be a visible sign of this unity Christ prayed for. It is only when they are one that they can rise up with one voice against social injustice and the enslavement of Christian morality especially in a world where Christian values are under attack. How can we regain our status when we are scrambling for supremacy and authority and as a result have remained disintegrated? The early Christians were one and this unity encouraged them to give up their lives for the faith just as Stephen did in the first reading (Acts 7:55-60).

Therefore, as the second reading (Rev. 22:12-14, 16-17,20) reminds us that Christ is coming soon, we can only prepare to receive him when we are united, when each one will help his/her brother/sister prepare for the Lord. Our journey to eternity requires a collective effort to do the will of God and our unity as Christians and members of the family of God will guarantee us success in this journey of faith. God loves you.

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