YEAR A: HOMILY FOR THURSDAY OF THE 7TH WEEK OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: From Jerusalem to Rome: A Mystical Story of Church Beginning.
BY: Fr. Evaristus Abu
HOMILY: Read Acts 23:6-11, Psalm 16 and John 17:20-26 _
“And when the dissension became violent, the tribune, afraid that Paul would be torn in pieces by them, commanded the soldiers to go down and take him by force from among them and bring him into the barracks. The following night the Lord stood by him and said, ‘Take courage, for as you have testified about me at Jerusalem, so you must bear witness also at Rome.’ ” (Acts 23:10-11)_
Have you ever wondered why the capital of the Church is in Rome? Today’s first reading gives us a little insight. At the beginning of Christianity, Israel was just a colony of Rome which was at this time a world power. Christians did not find it funny at all, they were persecuted from all sides, flogged, dragged out of cities, denied their human rights, and so on. Before his conversion to Christianity, St. Paul was himself its most zealous persecutor.
Things quickly turned around for Paul. He who once fought Christianity became the solid engine behind the rapid spread of the Christian Faith. As we see in today’s first reading, he who once persecuted Christians was now being persecuted for the same Faith. He was almost torn to pieces by the two strong factions in Judaism; the Sadducees and the Pharisees. That night, Jesus appeared to Paul telling him how he would now bear witness in Rome.
It is quite interesting that Paul did not go to Rome as a free man like some tourist going to check out new locations. Paul was sent to Rome in chains but it is over two thousand years now, Rome as a world power is no more but Rome as the capital of the Christian Faith is still standing. What does this teach us?
- God knows how to write straight on crooked lines. We do not know tomorrow. We do not know why God allows certain things to happen, some of which may bring us pain at the moment but then, God has a plan. What looks like your valley of the shadow of death may eventually become your podium; your launch pad for success.
Rome was supposed to be the city of death for Christians but that same Rome eventually became the springboard of the worldwide Christian movement. Rome provided a platform for Christian message to spread to all its colonies.
- We should never be afraid of defending our faith. That the world (despite its hatred) has not been able to destroy Christianity is a testimony that God is with the Church. No one can battle with the Lord.
Always allow God to do your fighting for you. Just as no one can fight God and succeed, no one can fight a battle if God is not on his or her side. Seek first God’s kingdom, just make God a priority and relax, God will do the rest for you. Just as God caused commotion between the Pharisees and Sadducees, God will cause confusion in the camp of your enemies and they would fight against themselves while you just watch.
Finally, we should never stop witnessing to our Faith especially by promoting oneness, love and unity. Jesus prayed in today’s Gospel passage “may they become perfectly one so that the world may know that you have sent me…” John 17:23 Division, fights, blackmail, hatred etc. among a Christian community only brings us a negative image before unbelievers.
Let us pray: Lord Jesus, I trust you, deepen my courage to continue witnessing to you wherever I go. In the face of persecution, strengthen me all the more. Amen.
Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 7th Week of Easter. Bible Study: Acts 23:6-11, Psalm 16 and John 17:20-26).