DETAILED HOMILY FOR THE 7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR C
THEME: THE POWER OF ONENESS (UNITY).
BY: Rev Fr Gerald Muoka_
HOMILY FOR SUNDAY MAY 29 2022
R1 – Acts 7:55-60
R2 – Rev 22:16-17, 20
GoOSPEL – Jn 17:20-26
A fictitious story was narrated about a certain family that lived in abject poverty, ill-fated conditions and yet in irreconcilable hatred and disunity. After seeing how happy and prosperous others who lived harmoniously in the neighbourhood were, they started praying and asking for progress without knowing their secrets – PEACE and UNITY before PROGRESS. Lo and behold, after weeks of praying and fasting, there was a knock at the door. When they opened the door with some anticipations that progress had come to visit them, it was a disappointing scenario as they saw PEACE, an uninvited guest. They gave PEACE a cold welcome and outrightly rejected him without giving him a place in their home. PEACE left and never returned. Next, there came another knock at the door, and upon opening the door, it was UNITY. With a heavy sigh, they slammed and banged the door. UNITY left and never returned. After some hours, there was a heavy and promising knock; hopefully, it was PROGRESS. With joy and jubilation, they opened the door and ushered him into the house. When they offered him a seat, he looked around and asked, “Where are my two brothers, PEACE and UNITY? They always go before me.” “They came,” replied the family, “but we told them that it was a wrong address and they left because we never invited them. You are our anticipated guest, welcome!” PROGRESS took to his heels saying, “I cannot stay without my elder brothers, PEACE AND UNITY,” leaving the family in abject and perpetual poverty.
Beloved in Christ, indeed, PEACE, UNITY and PROGRESS are three outstanding coordinates that have been used as motto and watchwords by many communities, groups, organisations and belief systems; boldly written on their billboards and official documents; yet we have not realized that our power and identity as a community of believers lie in the trio: PEACE, UNITY AND PROGRESS. And non of them can function or stay in any space without the other.
Imagine today, alot of families, marriages, relationships, kindreds, communities and countries are in PERPETUAL bondage of hatred, disunity and violence because we have not experienced the power of one, by placing our priority aright. Yet we pray each day for progress and prosperity (okwa go si na iga eburum ibu a), without routing for the basics. Most of our prayer points are not prayer projects per se, rather, what UNITY, PEACE and ONENESS will generate.
That is the reason why in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus in his Priestly prayers that incorporates both his Farewell Speech cum Last Testaments, calls for unity and oneness among believers: “I pray not only for these but also for those who through their teaching will come to believe in me” (Jn 17:20).
Because, it is only when we unite as one, that we realise our true identity, as a people created in the image and likeness of God and equally have a share in the Trinitarian love and unity of Spirit and Purpose. If we don’t unite, we don’t know where our power is.
The first reading describes the martyrdom of Stephen, showing us how he bore witness to the forgiving love of Jesus by his last prayer. Forgiveness is the only reason why we can boast of oneness and unity.
*THE POWER OF ONE*
One (1) is the first cardinal number. In Arithmetic, one is an indivisible and unbreakable number. It yields what we become, “first,” “unbreakable” and “indivisible,” when we unite as one. Nothing threatens the enemy or intruders (umunnadi), more than unity and oneness of purpose among siblings, couples and friends.
However, in today’s Gospel reading, Jesus prays the father to keep his followers one. The Greek interlineer, renders, “that they may be one,” as follows: “hina osin en.” It is a purpose clause with “hina” (that) and present active subjunctive of the verb “eimi” (to be), which depicts ONENESS OF WILL AND SPIRIT. Jesus realised that oneness is the key word for a successful mission, mutual coexistence, fraternity love and collegial relationships.
Furthermore, it is pertinent to note that union of persons is quite different from union of will and spirits. We can gather as one, live together in the same house as a family, village or community, belong to the same organisation or group without being united and achieving oneness of purpose and spirit. Oneness of the Spirit and Will is deeply spiritual and transcendental. It is participating in the life of the Blessed Trinity. Lack of it, explains the reason why we cannot achieve greater feats as a family, organisation, group, association or community (ndi kwe na ndi ekweghi).
Whereas, in the zoological habitat, we experience the marching of locusts, swarming of bees, colony or army of ants, flocking of birds, shoaling or school of fish, that enable them to achieve great feat by building nests, ant hills, hives and strong defensive arsenal and even the bunch of broom sticks that come together to do what one stick cannot achieve without breaking. That is the power of one ‐- the advantage of unity.
Nevertheless, in the first reading, we experience the power of unity of spirit, will and purpose among the apostles, who, as one unit, relying on the power of God, elected Matthias to replace Judas Iscariot. This incorporation was an action done by the whole community under the chairmanship of Peter. It was indeed a fruitful session. The same unity is what sustained the early church, who sold what they had and shared amongst each other.
Furthermore, it is worthy of note that, the priestly prayers of Jesus is equally regarded as his Last Testament (His will). It has a unique expectations than other Last Wills of fathers to their children or masters to their servants. While fathers and masters share what they have among their children (that is dividing his possessions among his children or servants) for harmonious coexistence, Jesus chose a better way of keeping them together, “making them one and bringing what they have together, inorder to remain one.
(1) *FORGIVENESS PRECEDES ONENESS*
One lesson we derive from today’s first reading is that of forgiveness, which is a necessary precondition for unity and oneness. The martyrdom of Stephen, shows us how he bore witness to the forgiving love of Jesus by his last prayer. We cannot live together without hurts and lack of forgiveness threatens our unity and oneness.
(2) *THERE IS UNITY IN DIVERSITY*
Plurality is a source of variety which should spice up love and promote mutual coexistence, through unity. Plurality should not be the source of our division and disunity. We should recognize and acknowledge that we are diverse in our human, ethical, cultural, traditional, temperamental and enneagramic composition of our existence as human beings; and no two persons are the same, not even identical twins. Everyone has a unique taste to spice up the world to be a better place for me and you. We should use these diversities to add beauty and variety to the world and promote unity.
(3) *WHAT BRINGS US TOGETHER IS GREATER THAN WHAT TEARS US APART*
Religious and denominational differences should not be a source of disunity. Jesus Christ who is at the centre of Christian faith and God (Allah), who is worshipped by different religions is that force which supersedes whatever is it that tears us apart. We need to understand, appreciate, cooperate and pray. The denominations and religious plurality are a reality. There is no use in our blaming each other for the historical events which caused these divisions in Christ’s Body. What we can do is to learn sympathetically about the doctrinal similarities and differences to our own beliefs among Christian believers, to shed prejudices and suspicion about each other, to learn to love each person we encounter as one in Christ.
Finally, in 1964, after the fateful elections that generated some ethnic and regional cankerworm of misunderstandings in Nigeria, Dr Nnamdi Azikiwe flee Kaduna to mend fences with Alhaji Ahmadu Bello. At the Kaduna Airport to welcome him was the powerful Saduana of Sokoto. After a warm embrace of these two political giants, Dr Zik presented the first olive branch thus: “Let us forget our differences….” But the Sarduana of Sokoto corrected and instructed him, “No, let us know and understand our differences. I am a Hausa man, a Muslim and a Northerner. You are an Igbo man, a Christian and an Easterner. By understanding our differences, we can work together and build unity in our country.”
Beloved, we cannot unite and live as one, without understanding, recognizing and respecting our differences. Our strength is hidden in our differences and uniqueness. Let love lead.
MAY GOD SEND US THE HOLY SPIRIT TO INSTILL AND ENKINDLE IN OUR HEARTS THE FIRE OF THE TRINITARAN LOVE AND UNITY FOR MUTUALITY COEXISTENCE. AMEN.
*GOD BLESS YOU!*
*FR GERALD MUOKA*