29th May, 2022

Family silhouetted against the sunset

‘May they be one’

Homily for the 7th Sunday of Easter

We are here for the Eucharist, on the last Sunday of Easter, and only one week before Pentecost Sunday. We have come together to pray, and because we are all different, we pray with different attitudes and our motivations are different as well. Sometimes we pray because we experience how good and wonderful God is. We feel that he is good for us, and we want to praise and thank him for his tremendous and incredible love and care that we experience every day. We want to thank him because he is active in our lives, and we can experience his presence, his grace and his blessings. Sometimes we pray because we are sorry for our sins, and we ask for pardon, and that happens often as well. But probably most often we pray because we have some very important intentions, we lack something desperately. We frequently ask God to fulfil our petitions, but sometimes – as we know – our petitions seem to be unanswered. What do we feel then? Are we then angry with God that he is not listening to us? Are we losing our faith because we think that he is not interested in our life, he doesn’t care for us, he is absent in all our problems and hardships? What do we feel when our prayers seem unanswered? Maybe we should try to understand that God always respects our free will, and therefore can change something in our lives only when we surrender our free will to his will. Whatever we feel in this time when we pray, and when we think that our prayers are not being answered – or perhaps we feel they are answered, but not exactly in the way as we want them to be answered – in all such moments let’s think about Jesus’ prayer. As we heard in today’s Gospel, not only we pray to God. In today’s passage we heard that Jesus, the Son of God prayed as well. We heard the following words: Jesus raised up his eyes to heaven and said: Holy Father, I pray not only for these, but for those also who through their words will believe in me. May they be one. May they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you. At the last supper Jesus prayed for unity for his disciples, and for all his followers. Can we today say that that Jesus’ prayer was answered? No, not in the way how we think, not in the human way. May they be one. We the followers of Jesus are so much divided. We as Christians are divided into so many churches, denominations, groups. As Catholics we are so much divided, because we are different. This is our human nature that we always know better what is right and what is not. We have the vision of the world, and we have the vision of the Church as well. We know how bishops should act, we know what the pope should say and what decisions should be made by them. We are divided because we want to follow our own human way of thinking, not God’s way of thinking. And God cannot work miracles unless we surrender our free will to his will. Jesus prayed for unity among us, and even though we think that that prayer is not being answered, we cannot say that the prayer of Jesus was pointless.

Why is it so important that Jesus prayed that unity will be an important part of our life? Only when there is unity in a group, in a parish, in a country we can achieve something great. See how important and helpful unity is for people living in Ukraine in this difficult time of war. We know the saying: One for all, and all for one. Or another one: United we stand, divided we fall. Or as Jesus said: If the house is divided against itself, it cannot stand. And the last one: If we cannot live together, we are going to die alone. Unity is so important for us because if we are united, we can achieve the goals of our life, we can imitate God who is three in one, three persons united in one God. The main goal of our life is to imitate God, to imitate his unity. Only when we are united in love with Jesus, we can love other people who are different from us. Today we are invited during this Holy Eucharist to receive Jesus in Holy Communion, we are invited to think in his way, we are invited to love others as he loves us, and finally we are invited to open our hearts for his life, because only then we can be united in our families, in our societies.

Today I encourage you, when you leave the church, when you go back home with your husband, wife, children, parents – just do something. Take a little step forward, do a little thing, a little gesture to show others that you have received the Word of Life, that you are willing to fulfil the prayer of Jesus, so that his prayer would not be lost, not wasted. Do something to unite with your wife, husband, children, parents, colleagues, neighbours. I don’t have to tell you who you need to unite with, and what to do, because you know that better than I. Only then will we be able to see that Jesus’ prayer has been answered when we do what he prayed for.

Fr Gregory