Homily (Reflection) for Seventh Sunday of Easter, Year C (8th May, 2016) on the Gospel

Acts 7:55-60;
Ps 96:1-2.6-7.9. (R. vv. 1.9);
Rev 22:12-14.16-17.20;
Jn 17:20-26.

They walked in tandem, each of the 92 students filing into the already crowded auditorium. With their rich maroon gowns flowing and the traditional caps, they looked almost as grown up as they felt. Dads swallowed hard behind broad smiles, and Moms freely brushed away tears. This class would NOT pray during the commencement–not by choice, but because of a recent court ruling prohibiting it.

The principal and several students were careful to stay within the guidelines allowed by the ruling. They gave inspirational and challenging speeches, but no one mentioned divine guidance and no one asked for blessings on the graduates or their families. The speeches were nice, but they were routine, until the final speech received a standing ovation. A solitary student walked proudly to the microphone. He stood still and silent for just a moment, and then, it happened.

All 92 students, every single one of them, suddenly SNEEZED!!!! The student on the stage simply looked at the audience and said, ‘GOD BLESS YOU, each and every one of you!’ And he walked off stage. The audience exploded into applause. This graduating class had found a unique way to invoke God’s blessing on their future with or without the court’s approval.[1]

Topic: Realization of Christ’s prayer.

Today’s gospel is part of Jesus’ long prayer for all His disciples, from the time He came into the world as the Word incarnate to the end of time, to be one. It reads in part,

that they may all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me. The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one....

This prayer means so much more than many might think. The paradigm is the union between Jesus and the Father, cf. Jn 14:9-11. That is to say that whoever sees one has seen all.

It is unfortunate that today we empty our armoury fighting our brothers and sisters instead of our enemy. We forget that our battle is not “against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world rulers of this present darkness, against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places”, cf. Eph 6:12. As a result of this colossal collective failure, different forms of evil thrive more and more because we not only fail to fight our enemy but also weakening our brothers’ and sisters’ base.

Without doubt, each of us has his or her share of the blame for the divisions among Christ’s disciples today. As a result, none of us can validly judge the other, cf. Rom 2:1, 3. We spend time and energy judging and condemning each other instead of living out our call. Ours is to do our parts and God’s to judge each of us righteously, cf. Ps 7:11; 50:6; 96:10, 13; 98:9. Hence for prophet Isaiah, “...the LORD is our judge, the LORD is our ruler, the LORD is our king; he will save us” (Is 33:22). God will surely judge all of us according to our ways, cf. Ezek 33:20. Saint Paul rightly questioned, “Why do you pass judgment on your brother? Or you, why do you despise your brother? For we shall all stand before the judgment seat of God” (Rom 14:10).

I think we have spent ample time judging and condemning each other; finding those who have theology, those that worship idols, those who are bible-believing, and so on. Where have all these lead us to?

Dear friends, it is time to hearken to the voice of wisdom and “Strive for peace with all men, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (Heb 12:14). And Saint Paul also admonished us, “Let us then pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding” (Rom 14:19). Again, Saint Peter also advised us, “all of you, have unity of spirit, sympathy, love of the brethren, a tender heart and a humble mind” (1Pt 3:8). Even Jesus declined to judge. But this in no way means that any wrong doing will go unpunished, cf. Jn 12:47-48; Prov 11:21; 19:5,9. Everyone will give account to God, cf. Rom 14:12; 1Pt 4:5. Let us stop judging and condemning each other. These only build more walls instead of pulling the existing ones down or at least build bridges across them. We should love each other and live out our faith so that our lights may shine out for others to see, cf. Matt 5:16; 1Pt 2:12. The students in our story were able to pray contrary to the court order because they were united. If only we can unite today, many evils will be things of the past.

Bible Reading: Ps 133; Matt 7:1-5; Rom 2:1-16; 14:1-23; 1Cor 1:10-17.

Thought for today: We are one big family.

Let us pray: Lord, help us discover more and more the things we have in common and strive always for unity of all your children – Amen.

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[1] Thomas, T. (2010). Spice up your homilies. Mumbai: ST PAULS, pp. 145-146.

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