From the pastor’s desk
Seventh Sunday of Easter – Year C– “I pray also…that they all may be one as you, Father, are in me, and I in you (John 17:20-21).”
The whole life of Jesus revealed his inseparable union with the Father. His ministry was a witness to the Father-Son relationship or the relationship between Jesus and the Father who sent him on his Divine mission. In his high priestly prayer, Jesus consecrates his disciples and those who would come to believe in him through their testimony and ministry. His prayer reveals his last will for his church, as she continues his testament at all times. His will is that the holy church would be one and deeply rooted in the Trinitarian Unity. The unity Jesus prays for, is not unity in uniformity, but unity in diversity. This kind of unity is the sacrament of the Holy Trinity-three distinct persons, equal in majesty, undivided in splendor, one God, one Lord, sharing in one God-head. The holy Church that is diverse in culture with different persons of different backgrounds must be deeply rooted in the Father and the Holy Spirit through Jesus Christ, the Son of God. The church’s deep rootedness in the Trinitarian love is achieved when Christians accept and love in accordance with the truth revealed in Jesus Christ. In this way, they will be united in the truth, which is the basis of their mission.
The truth revealing the love of the Father for the world is witnessed to, through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. This is the truth at all times and in all places which all Christians must adhere to. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Stephen bore witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He was Christ-like in life and in death. In the heat of his trial before the Sanhedrin, Stephen looked up to the sky above, a gesture of prayer in the midst of his passion, he saw the glory of God and Jesus standing at God’s right hand which he bore witness to. Like Jesus who commended his spirit into the Father’s hands before he died on the Cross, St. Stephen prayed: “Lord Jesus, receive my Spirit (Acts 7:59).” As he fell to his knees before his last breath, he cried out with a loud voice: “Lord do not hold this sin against them (Acts 7:60).” The similarity between the life and death of Stephen and Christ’s is vividly seen. That is what Jesus is praying for, in his high priestly prayer for his disciples. The messageof the resurrection of Jesus Christ should not diminish the centrality of the Cross in our Christian life. It is in the midst of our own share in the Cross of Christ that we shall look up in prayer, like Stephen, to experience Jesus who victori ously and gloriously stands at the right hand of the Father in heaven. The Holy Spirit is given to us as He was given to Stephen to replicate the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ in us. In this way, the believers will be able to carry the love of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit into their surroundings and propagate the Christian message.
Christian witnessing is very important for every Christian. It is through it that we continue the mission mandate entrusted to us, for which Our Lord Jesus Christ consecrated us to the Father in his high priestly prayer. Jesus has never abandoned his holy Church at any time. Jesus assures us through his revelation to St. John on the Island of Patmos that as ‘the Root and Offspring of David, the Morning Star shining bright,’ ‘the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, the Beginning and the End,’ He is coming soon, bringing with him the reward that will be given to each person as his or her conduct deserves.
The reward that will be given to each person depends on his or her fidelity in bearing witness to the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, which entails much of sacrifices. Each person must do his best in propagating the message of the gospel in his surroundings. May the Holy Spirit empower and enable us to carry out this missionary endeavor.
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD