HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A.
THEME: Eternal Life as Knowing God and Jesus.
BY: Fr. Luke Ijezie.
The prayer of Jesus in today’s Gospel from John 17:1-11 reminds me of an inspiring experience. I once worked in an Italian parish with an Italian priest who so much enjoyed theological discussions. He once asked me, “Don Luca, What is really the function of a parish?” In the course of our deliberation, two ideas emerged: the parish as a forum for knowing more about God and the parish as a centre for building a Christian Community. We decided to unify both ideas: the parish functions to build a Christian Community through deeper knowledge of God.
In today’s Gospel, Jesus defines eternal life thus: “Now this is eternal life, that they should know you, the only true God, and the one whom you sent, Jesus Christ.” With this understanding of eternal life as knowing God, Jesus prays that eternal life be given to his followers. But what do we make of this understanding of Eternal life, and how does it help us to understand the readings of today?
1. Knowing God is not just intellectual knowing. The idea of knowing involves experiencing and acquaintance. Knowing God means having experience of God. We come to know God only through association with Jesus. He is the only revealer of God. Knowing God and knowing Jesus sums up the whole Christian life and the very purpose of human existence. The Community of Jesus is a community that devotes all its life to enhancing this knowledge and living it out in everyday life.
2. The first such Christian Community is the group presented to us in the first reading from Acts 1:12-14. After the Ascension, the community of disciples, made up of both men and women together with the Mother of Jesus, gathered in the upper room in Jerusalem. This famous Upper Room is the forum where the believers gather to pray and to reflect on their whole experience of God and Jesus. It is there that they will receive the promised Spirit on the Pentecost, and it is from there that the work of evangelisation will commence. It is actually a miniature parish community, the first of its kind.
3. The responsorial psalm of today, from Psalm 27:1,4,7-8, can be read as model favourite prayer of this pristine Christian community:
“The LORD is my light and my salvation; whom should I fear? The LORD is my life’s refuge; of whom should I be afraid?
RELATED: HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR A.
One thing I ask of the LORD;
this I seek: To dwell in the house of the LORD all the days of my life, that I may gaze on the loveliness of the LORD and contemplate his temple.
Hear, O Lord, the sound of my call; have pity on me, and answer me. Of you my heart has spoken: seek his face.”
The Psalm echoes the longings of one who wants to dedicate the entire life to being in the presence of God and walking in his path.
4. The second reading from 1Pet 4:13-16 reminds Christians that living the Christian life means sharing in the sufferings of Christ. Inevitably, people will insult us for bearing the name of Christ because our life contradicts theirs. This should be a cause of joy for the Christian. True knowledge of Christ involves full consciousness of sharing in his Cross with the hope of always living in his presence. Living in the divine presence never ends. It grows like the mustard seed with greater and greater experiences. This is what the Christian life is all about. It never ends. The Christian Community nurtures the experience and helps it to grow and spread out.
Knowing the true God is a real task in our contemporary religious life. We tend to substitute the real knowledge of God with other mundane considerations. The consequence is that a culture of godlessness gradually develops with its allied vices. Helping people know the true God and Jesus is a missionary responsibility for every believer.
As we prepare for the coming of the Spirit, which is a deeper experience of God, we pray that our Communities may become real centres for growth in the Knowledge of the true God and living out of the message of Christ! Amen!
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