Homily (3) 7th Sunday of Easter Year B: Fr. Michael UdoekpoReadings Acts 1:15-17, 20a, 20c-26; 1 John 4: 11-16 and John 17:11b-19
He prayed that they may all be one
“Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying, “ Holy Father, keep them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one just as we are one”(John 17:11b).
There is no better day to read the priestly prayer of Jesus than on the occasion of Johannine Jesus’ last discourse, preparing his disciples for the Post Ascension or Pre- Pentecost periods of evangelization and demands of discipleship. What will become of the Disciples of Christ and the Church after Jesus’ Ascension to the Father? Today’s readings are relevant to us today who presently live in a broken world, plague with wars, and all kinds of divisions, discriminations on the streets, offices, places of work and even in places of worship.
If we read the preceding verse 11a of this 17th chapter of John, Jesus wishes is expressed, “And now I will no longer be in the world, but they are in the world, while I am coming to you. Holy Father keep them in your name…”
Jesus himself was in deep union with his Father throughout his ministry. He remains with him. His Ascension was the work of the Father, who lifted him up. He knew the journey was not always going to be easy for his disciple and church. The more reasons in his High Priestly Prayer of today’s Gospel he committed our well-being and faith into God’s hands. He wants us to remain with the Father and stick around in love and unity with one another. He prayed that through the gift of the Holy Spirit each of us may be brought into that kind of deep union and friendship that he had shared with God His Father.
Besides faith, hope and love, stressed in the 2nd reading, prayer and openness for the guidance of the Holy Spirit are key principles for true discipleship. The union of the disciples and the church can be achieved through incessant prayer, even in making choices or key decision like the selection of Matthias to replace Judas who had betrayed Christ and gone his way. In doing this we are told in the 1st reading, the church prayed and said:
“You, Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which one of these two (Judas called Barsabbas and Matthias) you have chosen to take the place in this apostolic ministry from which Judas has turned away to go to his own place.”
How many of us have not turned away once in a while or tempted to do so from the teachings of the Church, from the teachings of the Holy Scripture from our faith tradition, from the teachings of Christ, love, charity, peace, serenity, gentleness, humility forgiveness, unity, “do to others what you would want don to you” (matt 7:12) and sometimes go our own way. With prayer everything is possible. With prayer we can make a U-turn back to Christ. With prayer we can remain with him.
Prior to our decisions and choice making, be it that of the college to go to, a particular doctor to visit, suggestions to make at family and executive meetings, which mass to attend or what menu to choose from, a particular book to read, movie to watch or friends to hang out with, at the United Nations, cabinet meetings, parish councils, diocesan senates, we want to pray, we want to always consult our advocate; counselor, the Holy Spirit, through prayers.
At this Mass, remember this is our upper Room, let us re-dedicate our life’s mysteries into God’s hands. Let us imitate our Mother Mary and the apostles, who prayed before Matthias was selected, who kept the faith, who waited patiently and prayerfully united for the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, come next Sunday.