Deacon Steven M. Johnson – St. James, Belvidere, IL
Homily for the 7th Week of Easter, Thursday, 5-20-21, Year B
St Bernardine of Siena-Priest-Optional Memorial
READINGS: 1st Acts 22:30; 23:6-11, Gospel Jn 17:20-26
United we stand, divide we fall. This is the mantra of a country to its soldiers before battle, a coach to his team before the game, a father to his family in the darkness of trying times. We are stronger as a group then as lone individuals. When we share a common goal and focus on that goal, it will be accomplished. When we are divided about a goal and have a fractured focus on what the goal is, it will not be accomplished, it will fail.
God’s will for humanity is to love Him with our whole heart, our minds, with all our strength, and to love our neighbor as ourselves. That is our goal. We must be united in this endeavor to serve God and one another. If we are divided in how to accomplish this goal, we will fall and we will lose the salvation of many.
Paul’s entire life after his conversion was to unite, not divide. His goal was that of God’s, to bring His son, Jesus, to all people, to unite them under Christ, both Jew and Gentile. He preached a message of the love of God and the gift of His son for our sins. He taught correct theology and corrected those that misunderstood Jesus’s Gospel. He wanted all people, everyone He met, to come to the understanding and shear truth of who the Father and Son is, to experience what He experienced and have their hearts converted to one of love for God and neighbor.
With the Holy Spirit, the Church grew and survived because of the unity Paul sewed in his travels and the pure love he poured forth in his teachings. He prayed to God for all to come to understand the truth of the Gospel.
These last few days we have been able to experience the deep and personal prayer of Jesus to his Father. He concludes His prayer today in asking for the unity of His Church, the gift the Father gave Him. St. Jerome said of this passage:
“The unity that he (Jesus) had besought for the first disciples must remain the characteristic of the Church. Unless the Church preserves the unity willed by God, it cannot perform its essential mission in the world. The unity of the Church is, as it were, the incarnation of the shared life and love of the Father and Son. When the church is true to its destiny and preserves the unity in love that has been given it, it is the continuation of Christ as mediator and revealer of God.” 1
Jesus asks God to preserve us in Unity within the Church. In today’s times
I am not so sure that “unity” is the characteristic that most describes our Church throughout the world. It appears that many have allowed themselves to lose focus on the goal, a goal to be united as one in Christ through the will of God, for the love of all on Earth and in heaven. Christ prayed deeply for this and so we must too, especially now.
Pray for unity. Pray for hearts to be open to the truth and the Will of God and for that Will to lead us to the love for which Christ prayed for all of us. United we stand, divided we fall.
Most holy and almighty God, we pray for unity in our Church, one of which your Son prayed for to you so many years ago. Unite us in love through right understanding of the truth that was revealed in your Son’s Gospel and bring us all to your heavenly kingdom, that which is our true home. Amen.