YEAR C: HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER
HOMILY THEME: THAT WE ALL MAY BE ONE IN CHRIST.
BY: Fr. Clem C. Aladi.
HOMILY: GOSPEL: JOHN 17:20-26
The unity of Christendom is not a luxury, but a necessity. The World will go limping until Christ’s prayer that all may be one is answered. We must have unity, not at all costs, but at all risks. A unified Church is the only offering we dare present to the coming Christ, for in it alone will He find room to dwell .”
– Charles H. Brent
~My dearest in Christ, welcome to the house of God on this seventh Sunday of Easter and Sunday before Pentecost. Just a week before the Pentecost the theme of unity reechoes in today’s gospel reading of the highly priestly prayer of our Lord: ” Holy Father, I pray not only for them, but also for those who will believe in me through their word,so that they may all be one” In this priestly prayer, Christ prays for all those who will come believe in Him through the teachings and testimonies of his apostles – that is we all.
Christ prayed for His apostles and also for us. The fruit of this prayer was very eloquent in the unity that marked the apostolic teaching and witnessing. They handed over to generations after them down to us an undiluted and unadulterated message of the gospel. This message in its purity, they bore unanimous witness to even to the extent of testifying to its truth with the blood.
The first reading examplifies the martyrdom that accompanied the witnessing of those who believed in the teaching of the Apostles. Stephen persuasively and courageously defended the Christian faith before the Jewish court – the Sanhedrin. He was charged of blasphemy and was condemned to death by stoning.
~Has this prayer of Christ for unity bore any fruits? Yes at least Stephen is an example of those who believed through the teaching of the Apostles, being chosen as one of the seven deacons in the early Christian church. But very sad to say, we live in a time of confusion, a time of discordance in the message of the gospel. While the word of God remain eternally immutable and is carefully preserved, protected, taught and witnessed to by the Catholic Church, many brethren from other ecclesial communities and even within the Church has clinged to spurious and personal interpretations to the gospel, making false claims to prophetic annointing all in God’s name, thereby tearing apart the unity or oneness that the seed of this message impacts. It is very disheartening that from the pulpit many homes and hearts has been broken rather than mended. Many have left the Church because of unguarded utterance of pastors and worst still by our lack of witnessing to what we preach. The gospel message has been twisted and turned upside down for selfish reasons. Our voices no longer resonate a common message. Had the Apostles disagreed in their message and witnessing, we would not have had reason to believe that their message and testimonies were true.
This confusion should end in our time, let the holy spirit direct our hearts and remind us of the truth we bore common witness to. ” The greatest kindness one can render to any man consists in leading him from error to truth” .
~And for us the people of God, it is crucial for us today to return to Jesus’ prayer, for it describes his hope, his vision, and his picture of what we, his followers, are to look like and how we are to live our lives together. It is very clear that his words are meant for everyone — then and now – as he prays for “those who will believe in me” (17:20) through the words of the disciples. It is a prayer for community. Jesus prays that, “all may be one.” To be a follower of Jesus is to be a part of a greater whole . According to Jesus there are to be no solitary Christians or spiritual “Lone Rangers.” Within that community the prayer is for unity: “that all may be one.” Does that mean we all have to get along all the time? Does that mean we all have to agree all the time? If one thinks of this as a functional/political statement, it would seem to call for constant agreement and accord. But if one thinks more in ontological terms then it becomes who we are. We are one in Christ whether we agree with each other or not. We are one in Christ whether we like one another or not. To become a part of Christ is to become a part of the community; a part of the one.
~Jesus’ prayer reminds us that our unity, our “oneness” is to be a sign to the world of God’s love for us in Jesus Christ. Oneness and unity is about love. And if you have been a part of a family, a member of a church, or a community, you know that within that love there can be disagreements and squabbling. We are human. But the mystery of the incarnation is that God desired unity with us so much God became one of us. And in that moment we were drawn into the oneness of God, the Creator/Father/Mother, the Son, and the Spirit. It is with God’s help that we can live into that oneness.
~The disciples were in the time between the Ascension and the gift of the Spirit at Pentecost. We are in the time between the first and second coming of Jesus Christ. May we rejoice in the assurance that Christ is with us, continuing to pray for our oneness, our unity.
~We are waiting and preparing to recieve anew the gifts of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost. The Holy spirit is a spirit of unity. So we cannot say we have the holy spirit in us if we are in constant disagreement, war, and fight among us in our families, communities, church or workplace. Injustice, tribalism, racism and prejudice etc. is eating down the bond of unity among us, let us give the Holy spirit a chance to make the prayers of Christ for unity come to fruition in our lives today. Humanity is one big neighbourhood, let us embrace unity in all ramifications of life and understand that we are all brothers and sisters whether white or black, young or old. The word of God says ” where two or three are gathered in my name, there Iam among ” (cf Mathew 18:20), this can only be possible when we are united in our hearts and actions. Let’s seek unity and let go divisiveness.
Prayer : Dear spirit of unity, heal the divisiveness in my heart and enkindle in me the eternal fire of your love, that I may seek and work for unity every day of my life. Amen.
I keep you and your family always in my prayers.
Fr. Clem C. Aladi.