Homily 7th Sunday of Easter Year A: Fr. Michael U. UdoekpoReadings: Acts 1:12-14; Psalms 27:1, 4, 7-8; 1 Pet 4:13-16 and John 17:1-11
The Mission of the Post-Ascension Church
In today’s Gospel, the last chapter of the Book of Glory Jesus prays for the church, and speaks of his glory with God to whom he has ascended in heaven (John 17:11a). He prays, “Father, the hour has come. Give glory to your son, so that your son may glorify you, just as you gave him authority over all people, so that your son may give eternal life to all you gave him.”
This prayer is an expression of Jesus unity with the Father. It is an expression of love for the Church he established. It also a report of his missions of love, compassion, feeding the poor, forgiving sinners, and healing he sick while on earth. It is a report of the faith he taught, the suffering he endured, the cross he carried on our behalf, and the community of believers he formed (vv6-8). In his glorification he will give eternal life to this community of faith. This eternal life includes the knowledge of God and his inspiration and spirit for the church, the Christian community to continue his mission.
Of course Jesus was a man of prayer from Baptism to the Cross, which he continues after his ascension. The first reading (Acts 1:12-14) presents his disciples who continues in this mission of prayer in the upper room soon after his ascension. We are told, “after Jesus had been taken up to heaven the apostles returned to Jerusalem…. When they entered the city they went to the upper room where they were staying, Peter and John, James and Andrew, Philip and Thomas, Bartholomew and Matthew, James son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas son of James… all devoted themselves with one accord to prayer, together with some women, and Mary the Mother of Jesus and his brothers.”
Each of us are invited to be Peter and John, James , Andrew and Philip, Thomas and Bartholomew, Matthew, James, Mary, men and women of prayer who delight in following the footsteps of Jesus at all times. Truly there are moments of challenges (frustration, low grades in exams, hatred, insult, discrimination, racism, disappointments, betrayals, illness and loss of loved ones). Christ himself before his Ascension faced those challenges and sufferings, even to the cross.
1 Peter 4:13-16, the second reading, reminds us how to react to sufferings. it teaches us how to handle those challenges of life. It says, "But whoever is made to suffer as a Christian should not be ashamed but glorify God because of his name. Peter also stresses joy, saying ‘rejoice to the extent that you share in the sufferings (glory) of Christ.”
Granted that we live in a divided world of the rich and the poor, the west and the east, north and south, joy and sorrows, wars and terrorisms, we are hopeful that Christ will never leave us orphans. He constantly prays and watches over us. And we ask the Lord to help us realize the importance of prayer, faith and hope, and of the oneness of the post-Ascension- Christian communities in keeping the words of Christ and promoting his values and mission to people of all walks of life, especially the poor and the weak of every nation.