HOMILY FOR MONDAY OF THE 4TH WEEK OF EASTER
THEME: THERE WILL BE ONLY ONE FLOCK AND ONE SHEPHERD: The project of ecumenism!
BY: Ben Agbo (Rev Fr)
HOMILY FOR MONDAY MAY 9 2022
*Act 11 : 1 – 18, Jn 10 : 11 – 12.
‘And there are other Sheep that I have that are not of this fold, I must lead these too. They too will listen to my voice and there will be only one flock, one Shepherd’. That seems to me the greatest challenge Christ left for his Church – perhaps, that may be one of the ‘greater works’ that Christ said that those who believe in him will do. One of the greatest things that can happen to the Church now is ecumenism because the more we experience internal and external splits in the Church of Christ, the more the enemy ravages us and makes the entire project of Christianity begin to look like a business. Ecumenism can only take place when the Church leaders develope the attitude of Christ in today’s gospel and that of Peter in today’s 1st reading. Christ said he is a good Shepherd and gave us two qualities of a good Shepherd;
1. Eagerness to lay down his life just to prevent one of the flock from perishing,
2. Knowledge of each flock and eagerness to bring back the straying ones.
I find this kind of zeal in our present Pope, Francis with his eagerness to open the rigid doors of ecumenism inspite of how much he has been misunderstood.
In today’s 1st reading, Peter told the circumcised believers who protested at Jaffa about his ‘love affair’ with uncircumcised believers how the Spirit spoke to him: the vision of the big sheet with different wild animals. His arguments dovetailed to one point that God was giving them (the uncircumcised believers) the same identical gift he gave to the circumcised believers. This account satisfied them. Ecumenism can only take place when the Church emphasizes more the identical gift of the Holy Spirit as the ‘H. C. F’ (Highest Common Factor) of all believers. One thing that struck me all through reading Peter’s account is the presence of the Holy Spirit as the principal instrument of guidance and revelation: ‘And the Spirit told me…’. Yes, the Church falls into trouble when either the flesh or the human mind takes over the leadership of the Church. She also falls into greater trouble when it takes over the followership of the Church.
Ecumenism begins when the older Church (eg the Roman Catholic Church) realizes that the Holy Spirit is also operating in the younger Churches (eg the Pentecostal Churches) . Secondly, it progresses when the younger or splitting churches believe that the Holy Spirit is still operating in the older Churches inspite of whatever human weaknesses inherent in the system. A split usually takes place when a smaller part of an older Church begins to feel that the Holy Spirit is no longer operating in the older block. But Christ didn’t want this split. That’s why he said that ‘There shall be only one flock and one Shepherd’, Jn 10 : 16. He promised to be with them till the end of time, Matt 28 :20. It is high time we pursue this project of Christian unity more vigorously, if not for anything, to avoid Muslim onslaught . It is a project that has to be carried out with sincerity, caution, humility and courage. May God bless you today as we continue to pray for the Party delegates who are gathering in a matter of weeks to decide the fate of Nigeria!