Sunday Reflection - 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C)

Sunday Reflection - 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C)

Posted: Fri, 27 May 2022 11:20

Sunday Reflection - 7th Sunday of Easter (Year C)

Today we finish our reflection on Jesus' priestly prayer as recorded in John's gospel. The prayer he utters is as relevant today as it ever was: 'Father, May they be one in us, as you are in me, and I am in you.' Jesus is fully aware of the love that he shares in the family of the Trinity—it is a love that also transforms his human life, a love that makes the ultimate sacrifice on Calvary.

We live in a real world that is, sadly, flawed: that great act of self-sacrificing love of Jesus inspires the Deacon Stephen to offer his life also. In this act of brutal murder, we are introduced to the fanatical pharisees, Saul—he sees it as his mission to rid the world of the followers of Christ. He is content to watch the religious fundamentalists carry out their execution of Stephen, looking after their clothes, as if it was some sort of sporting event. Stephen understood what is meant to be a follower of Christ: as a deacon, he is called to serve, especially those who are poor and on the margins. In today's first reading we hear the result of that love—a love that will even embrace death.

Jesus speaks of the love that he has enjoyed, even before the foundation of the world. Jesus is the physical embodiment of the love of God. In his ministry, teaching, parables, and encounters, we gain a glimpse of God's unconditional love. In this beautiful prayer, Jesus is praying for those like Saul who will come into the Christian family. He prays for a unity that we need to work hard to achieve. From the earliest of Christian times, as we see in the Acts and the Pastoral Epistles, we see tensions, jealousy, envy, narcissism, and a failure to live the gospel message of love. Today we are invited to do our very best to work together to promote a Church that is united.

We, of course, are included in this prayer since we have come to believe because of the witness of his first disciples. It is worth listening to the words of Jesus holding in our hearts the knowledge that we are hearing Jesus pray for each one of us and for the church to which we belong. If we pay close attention, we may suddenly feel very uncomfortable about the way we talk about each other sometimes or the way in which we react when controversial issues arise or find people behaving in ways that for us are difficult or unacceptable. We may ask the question of ourselves, 'what are we doing to enable this prayer of Jesus to become the reality of our life together.'

As our world is once again on the brink of a possible global conflict, there is a danger in thinking that as long as the fighting stays in Ukraine, it cannot possibly affect us. However, the economic reality and financial interdependence that is our reality, means that will need to pay increased fuel and electricity charges. The cost of bread, cakes and pastries will inevitably rise, as Ukraine has become the bread basket of Europe. Farmers have seen fertiliser costs quadruple—again because Ukrainian raw materials cannot get to the market. The lives of millions of good Ukrainian and Russian people are being destroyed by the selfish whim of a modern-day dictator. This prayer for unity is especially needed in this conflict: we have to show that there is a better way, a way that is going to lead to truth and life. We can only work together to achieve this unity. Today, let us try to put behind us all bitterness and selfishness. Let us build bridges instead of walls. Let us work to stop the virus of narrow nationalism that can only destroy the unity that Jesus envisioned. John O'Donohue reminds us that petty isolation can only harm us:

When we become isolated, we are prone to being damaged; our minds lose their flexibility and natural kindness; we become vulnerable to fear and negativity. The sense of belonging keeps you in balance amidst the inner and outer immensities. The ancient and eternal values of human life - truth, unity, goodness, justice, beauty, and love are all statements of belonging; they are also the secret intention and dream of human longing.

Value the communities that you belong to: from your family to school friends, from work colleagues to your friends at the pub, and from those on your Facebook 'friends list' to those gathered with you in worship today. Let us make a conscious effort to build community.

Author: Fr Gerry O'Shaughnessy SDB

Image: Photo by Yura Khomitskyi on Unsplash

Tags: Easter, Homepage, Sunday Reflection