Be like the God you are serving
Be like the God you are serving
1. Lifting up his eyes to heaven, Jesus prayed, saying: “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, as you, Father, are in me and I in you, that they also may be in us, that the world may believe that you sent me. And I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may be brought to perfection as one, that the world may know that you sent me, and that you loved them even as you loved me.
Father, they are your gift to me. I wish that where I am they also may be with me, that they may see my glory that you gave me, because you loved me before the foundation of the world.
Righteous Father, the world also does not know you, but I know you, and they know that you sent me.I made known to them your name and I will make it known, that the love with which you loved me may be in them and I in them”(Jn 17:20-26). Taken from today’s gospel for 7th Sunday of Easter.
2. Division, conflicts and persecutions based on religion are older than Christianity. At the time of Christ they were noticed between Jesus and the Jewish religious authorities. These people were the ones who finally eliminated Jesus. After Jesus his disciples suffered the same fate in the hands of the Jewish religious authorities and the pagan empire of Rome. Today’s first reading on the stoning of Stephen by the Jews is a clear conflict based on religion. Stephen was trying to prove that Jesus is with God to a people who killed Jesus.
3. The gospel reading shows that Jesus knew that the problem of division and conflict among believers contradicts the very person of God and his Christ. He prayed first of all for his disciples, praying for them to live in unity so that it will be clear to the world that Jesus their master was truly sent by God. He then prayed for the same unity among those who through the preaching of the disciples will come to believe in him. It is still this unity that will show the world that Jesus was sent by the Father. In spite of this prayer, christians right from the time of Christ have continued to live in conflict and division.
4. From the gospel, we christians should understand that any act of division in the Church is against the mind of Christ. Some men of God think that by attacking other churches especially the Catholic Church, they will rise to great reputation. It was along this line that one said that Pope Francis is a member of the New World Order and made human sacrifice with the Italians who died during the COVID-19 pandemic. I heard another one say that Catholics will all go to hell because they worship idols. Some Catholics hold similar ideas about other churches. All these internal conflicts weaken Christianity in the face of external aggression from non christian religions like Islam and the current brand of the African Traditional Religion.
5. These bickerings are there because many of the so called men of God have nothing godly about them. They are not working for Christ and his kingdom. They are simply in business for money and honour. Christ abhors such divisions. Today’s gospel should bring us to work for unity among all christians. Christ prayed for it and died for it. We cannot pretend to be good christians when we are fighting Christ.
6. When you look at life of Christ and that of the early christians you will discover that they worked for unity and when persecuted they remained like their master: kept the faith and prayed for their persecutors and in this way showed themselves to be true followers of Christ. Stephen was a good example. You too are called to imitate Jesus, your master and your God. Work for unity and pray for those who persecute you. By doing this you will bear better witness to Christ than if you attack the faith and belief of others.