HOMILY Theme: “Jesus prayed, ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.’” (John 17:11)

By: Fr. Robert deLeon, CSC


Homily for Sunday

John 17:1-11
Who among us, as a little kid, didn’t catch a reprimand for leaving an open box of crayons lying about for the dog or cat to eat? And what parent is there who hasn’t gotten down on hands and knees to scrape the waxy stuff off a wall or floor? Indeed, crayons probably held a prominent place among the playthings of most of America. And while wondrous creations could result from the proper use of the medium, curses followed the multitude of improper applications of the multi-colored sticks. But who among us, I wonder, really paid much attention to the precise labeling of each individual crayon? I sure didn’t! There was dark red, light red and medium red, and all the other colors received no clearer description. That’s why, perhaps, an old Associated Press article, which I now share with you, originally caught my attention.

“You won’t find magic mint or blizzard blue in that Crayola crayon box anymore. Mulberry and teal blue are gone, too. Taking their places: jazzberry jam, mango tango, inch worm and wild blue yonder. The new colors are being added to replace the four retired as part of a competition to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the crayon company. Crayola officials [in Easton, Pennsylvania] selected five colors to be removed from their collection that they considered redundant or unattractive, but allowed one to be spared through an online vote. Burnt sienna avoided retirement by earning the most votes of the 60,000 cast. A Crayola spokeswoman says retiring crayon colors is a ‘heart-wrenching process.’ It’s been done only twice in Crayola’s 100-year history.” (Associated Press, 2003)


The point? Crayons are such fascinating creations precisely because of their variety, so many shades, hues and tints crammed tightly together in a rectangular green and yellow flip-top box with a built-in sharpener right on the side. And in our 1950’s suburban neighborhood, the kid owning the box with the widest variety of colors was the envy of all, sure to be invited over for a rainy-day rendezvous. Donna, who lived next door to us, was such a wealthy kid. “Hey Donna, wanna come over to our house and color?” Should she agree, the tag line was always the same. “Great! We have the paper; you bring the crayons.”
So many colors nestled tightly together, and the greater the variety, the richer the package.

That’s a box of crayons for you. Couldn’t it be the same with people? Couldn’t humanity consider itself rich indeed when the widest variety of shades, hues and tints are packed tightly side by side, each one contributing to the beauty of the completed picture? Yet it remains a sad truth that our contemporary culture seems more often to vilify rather than glorify the differences that separate us. Indeed, God has created each one of us as someone unlike any other being in creation. God it is who has endowed us with certain attributes that distinguish us one from another. We are, in truth, God’s loving gift one to another, each of us contributing in a particular way to the continuing creation of God’s kingdom. Yet, sadly, we are like so many crayons crammed tightly together into the biggest box Crayola ever made, and rather than prizing such a variety, we tend to curse it.

In the gospel passage we hear today, we come upon Jesus before his death praying for all those he’ll leave behind when he returns to his Heavenly Father. “Jesus prayed, ‘Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.’” (John 17:11) Indeed, Jesus was praying not only to heal the divisions of his own day but those of every generation to follow. Surely, he is still pleading with his Father that we may be protected from ourselves; that is, protected from the animosity we often so zealously nurture that has created a world marked in so many places by dissension and war. And in those geographical areas not presently in armed conflict, general unrest and unhappiness mark a culture that crazily thinks itself prosperous. Jesus prays for us this day, “Holy Father, protect them in your name that you have given me, so that they may be one, as we are one.” (John 17:11)


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