BY: Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya



Acts 7:55-60
Psalm 97
Revelations 22:12-14. 16-17. 20
John 17:20-26

In the gospel reading, we are presented with the highly emotional parting prayer of Jesus to God for his church, both the immediate (the Apostles) and the future (our generation). This shows that Christians today occupy no less space in the loving heart of Jesus, as do the Apostles. It seems Jesus already foresaw the wall of division that would come between Christians in our world today; hence, he prayed “… that they may be one”.

What is the cause of disunity in our world today? I would say TRUTH!

Dear friends in Christ, where there is communication there is bound to be disagreement. Disagreement that is fuelled by contrasting opinions regarding what individuals consider the TRUTH, very often leading to conflict and crisis. Disagreement such as this was what led to the death of Stephen, as recorded in the 1st reading from the Acts of the Apostles. As sons and daughters of God, we are called to communicate with everyone. Communication that is fuelled by love for the straying ones with the intention to bring them close enough to experience the mercy of God through us.

“Therefore, putting away falsehood, speak the truth, each to his neighbour, for we are members one of another” (Eph 4:25). Being members one of another is the profound motivation with which the Apostle invites us to put away falsehood and speak the truth: the duty to guard the truth springs from the need not to belie the mutual relationship of communion. Truth is revealed in communion. Lies, on the other hand, are a selfish refusal to recognize that we are members of one body; they are a refusal to give ourselves to others, thus losing the only way to find ourselves.

As Christians, we all recognize ourselves as members of the one body whose head is Christ. This helps us not to see people as potential competitors, but to consider even our enemies as persons.

Such a capacity for understanding and communication among human persons is based on the communion of love among the divine Persons. God is not Solitude, but Communion; he is Love, and therefore communication, because love always communicates; indeed, it communicates itself in order to encounter the other. In order to communicate with us and to communicate himself to us, God adapts himself to our language, establishing a real dialogue with humanity throughout history (cf. Second Vatican Ecumenical Council, Dogmatic Constitution Dei Verbum, 2).

We are all invited, creatures created in the image and likeness of God who is communion, to invest in relationships and to affirm the interpersonal nature of our humanity, including in and through the network. As Christians, we are called to manifest that communion which marks our identity as believers. Since faith in itself, in fact, is a relationship, an encounter; and under the impetus of God’s love, we can communicate, welcome and understand the gift of the other and respond to it.

If we believe in God who is Trinity, then we see that to be ourselves, we need others. “I am truly human, truly personal, only if I relate to others. In fact, the word “person” signifies the human being as a “face”, whose face is turned towards the other, who is engaged with others. Our life becomes more human insofar as its nature becomes less individual and more personal; we see 3 this authentic path of becoming more human in one who moves from being an individual who perceives the other as a rival, to a person who recognizes others as travelling companions.”

“The image of the body and the members reminds us that the use of the social web is complementary to an encounter in the flesh that comes alive through the body, heart, eyes, gaze, breath of the other. If the Net is used as an extension or expectation of such an encounter, then the network concept is not betrayed and remains a resource for communion. If a family uses the Net to be more connected, to then meet at table and look into each other’s eyes, then it is a resource. If a Church community coordinates its activity through the network, and then celebrates the Eucharist together, then it is a resource. If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource. We can, in this way, move from diagnosis to treatment: opening the way for dialogue, for encounter, for “smiles” and expressions of tenderness… This is the network we want, a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free. The Church herself is a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on “likes”, but on the truth, on the “Amen”, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others.”

(Cfr. Message of the Holy Father Francis for the 53rd World Day of Social Communication, 2019)

*Rev Fr Stephen ‘Dayo Osinkoya*

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