Written Homily Reflection

Seventh Sunday of Easter - May 8, 2016

Homily Reflection by Fr. Pio Estepa SVD

Seventh Sunday of Easter – May 8, 2016

Pio Estepa SVD

A story goes that the first conflict on earth arose when God created plants and trees. It is because the tall and fragrant cedars of Lebanon towered about all the rest of the earth’s flora so elegantly that they became prone to vanity and arrogance.

So God created iron. In this way, it soon dawned on all the trees that their span of life was in danger. They began to weep, saying, ‘Woe to us, for one day an axe will cut us down.’

But God reassured them saying: ‘The axe’s handle is made of wood. Without a handle, the axe is nothing but a lump of iron. Strive then to live in unity among yourselves without betraying one another. Only then will no axe have any power against you.’

Today’s gospel according to St John is taken from the so-called “priestly prayer” of Jesus during the Last Supper. In its first part Jesus prayed for his beloved disciples in his time. In the second part –from which this Sunday’s gospel is an excerpt– he prayed for all his future followers who would believe and belong to his spiritual flock. That future flock now includes us.

In praying for his future disciples, Jesus expressed his main concern through the petition: “Father … may they be one as we are one.” That very evening of the last Supper, Jesus turned prayer into mandate by saying to them: “Love one another as I have I loved you.”

By faithfully living up to this prayer and mandate of Jesus, the first generation of disciples accomplished a historical marvel. After Pentecost, the early Church spread like wildfire throughout the Roman Empire within less than a century. For both Jews and Gentiles, the powerful magnet of the early Church was its unity. Impressed by how the early Christians treated one together, Jews and Gentiles alike exclaimed in admiration: “Look at how they love another!”

Sadly, down the ages the unity that Jesus prayed for his Church had been fractured again and again, so that today we have not one but many churches. The great scandal consists not in that we are many but in that we are fighting against each other.

It is heartening to know that Jesus prayed for our unity in his time, and still does pray for us today as the Risen Christ. Let us make his prayer our mandate in our times so that all churches that profess to be Christian may serve as bridge-builders promoting Love and Peace in our conflict-ridden world.