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Homilies/Reflections

One of another
By FR JULIUS OLAITAN

7TH SUNDAY OF EASTER

53RD WORLD COMMUNICATIONS SUNDAY 

(WE ARE MEMBERS ONE OF ANOTHER”(EPH 4:25–FROM SOCIAL NETWORK COMMUNITIES TO THE HUMAN COMMUNITY)

Dear friends in Christ, today the 7th Sunday of Easter, we celebrate the World Communications Day. In his letter for this year's celebration, Pope Francis opens with the words: “Ever since the internet first became available, the Church has always sought to promote its use in the service of the encounter between persons, and of solidarity among all.” In his message, the Holy Father uses the metaphor of the ‘net,’ the image of ‘community,’ and the metaphor of a ‘body and the members’ to teach that we need to give back to communication a broad perspective which is based on the person and so emphasises the value of interaction understood in terms of dialogue and an opportunity to meet with others. The relationships formed on the internet must be based on the idea of community as a network between people in their wholeness—the web needs to be a community of solidarity based on listening to others, having dialogue and using language in a responsible manner.

 

First reading (Acts 7:55-60)

In this passage, Luke presents the martyrdom of Stephen, the first Christian Martyr as a replica of the death of Jesus, except that Jesus was nailed up to the Cross, while Stephen was stoned to death. In many ways, the death of Stephen was a victory for the early Christians who were called to follow the example of this faithful servant who resembled his master (Jesus) in his martyrdom. He imitated Jesus by dying for the truth and the course that is right, but also in his last words by praying for his persecutors. He is indeed an authentic follower of Jesus. Before his death, he saw the Lord at the right hand of the father, a clear sign of the glory that will be bestowed on him as well. But this is a reminder also to the Sanhedrin of what Jesus had told them at the time he was arraigned, that the Son of Man will be seen seated at the right hand of the Father (Lk. 22:69). Stephen’s revelation is therefore an assertion that the prophesy had been fulfilled, Jesus who was put to death has risen and taken his rightful place with the Father.

 

Second Reading (Revelation: 2212-14, 16-17, 20)

Today’s passage is taken from the epilogue to the Book of Revelation. In it Jesus ascertains himself as Lord, as the one who gives each one the reward of their journey on earth, as the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last, coming from the root of David, the bright star of the morning. The blessed therefore are those who would wash their robes clean in the blood of the Lamb.

The blessed that listen chorus with the spirit and the bride “come.” He declares he will come soon but as the Psalmist tell's us “In God’s sight, a thousand years is no more than a watch in the night.” (Ps 89:4) The exact date of his coming cannot be ascertained as he will come like a thief in the night and the followers must be ready by a faithful way of life, for surely the event is certain to take place because not a single word of the Lord returns without achieving its purpose. How ready are you for the coming of the Lord.

 

Gospel (John 17:20-26)

The Gospel today is an opportunity for us to listen to Jesus, who prays for his followers, praying aloud his special intentions. There are two intentions in this passage. The first is, “May they all be one.” In this he prays not only for the twelve but also for all those who will come to know the truth through their missionary efforts. The kind of unity Jesus is praying for is not superficial, it is real-time unity. They should be united like Jesus and the Father are united, a unity found in the Godhead. It is by this unity that the world will come to know the truth, which Jesus brings to the world as the only Son of the Father, sent by Him to redeem the world. In Antioch, people will experience this unity among the followers of the way and so give them the name “Christians.” Is that love and unity to be seen in our communities today? 

The second intention is that the church may one day, be united with him in the glory of heaven. So that where the head has gone the body too may follow. Jesus wants his followers to enjoy the glory of God’s presence in heaven. He wants to be in his disciples and his disciples should be in him. This is a special request of Jesus. All through the Liturgical year we celebrate the saints who have attained the glory that Jesus prayed for in that passage, those who have washed their robes clean in the blood of the lamb by the exemplary followership of Jesus that is attested to by the church on earth. You are called to this same life, which is the goal of human existence that after knowing God, loving Him, worshipping Him and living the good life on earth, we may be united with him in the glory of heaven. How willing are you to take this route?

The Holy Father today in celebration of the World Day of Communications, encourages us to use the social media to enhance real encounter that builds relationships. Quoting him, he tells us,

The image of the body and the members reminds us that the use of the social web is complementary to an encounter in the flesh that comes alive through the body, heart, eyes, gaze, breath of the other. If the Net is used as an extension or expectation of such an encounter, then the network concept is not betrayed and remains a resource for communion. If a family uses the Net to be more connected, to then meet at table and look into each other’s eyes, then it is a resource. If a Church community coordinates its activity through the network, and then celebrates the Eucharist together, then it is a resource. If the Net becomes an opportunity to share stories and experiences of beauty or suffering that are physically distant from us, in order to pray together and together seek out the good to rediscover what unites us, then it is a resource.

We can, in this way, move from diagnosis to treatment: opening the way for dialogue, for encounter, for “smiles” and expressions of tenderness... This is the network we want, a network created not to entrap, but to liberate, to protect a communion of people who are free. The Church herself is a network woven together by Eucharistic communion, where unity is based not on “likes”, but on the truth, on the “Amen”, by which each one clings to the Body of Christ, and welcomes others.

 

Let us pray: Lord, grant us the grace and courage to communicate with mercy and so help create a healthy, free and fraternal closeness among all people. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen.

Have a blessed week!


 
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