7th Sunday of Easter (C)

“”That all may be one”

After Jesus’ Ascension his disciples returned to the upper room where they had celebrated the Last Supper and gathered in prayer with Mary, the women, the apostles and many disciples. They needed time apart after Jesus’ Ascension. It was like a time of retreat for them. Jesus had said to them to stay in the city until they were clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49). Jesus had promised that he would send them a Comforter or Advocate, the Holy Spirit. 

JOHN 17: 20-26:  Jesus prayed for a unity of personal relationship in the life of His disciples.  Unity was the main theme of Jesus’ prayer for the universal Church.  He prayed three times for the unity of the Church.  Note the gradation in the intensity of unity in Jesus’ prayer: in verse 21 he prays, “that they may all be one”;in verse 22, “that they may be one even as we are one”; and in verse 23, “that they may become perfectly one.”  Christ’s plea does not concern human organizational or institutional unity among the 34,000 Christian denominations. Jesus wanted the Church to be one in the very sense that there is oneness between Jesus and the Father. 

The mind of Jesus is that we cannot have unity with others unless we first have unity among ourselves as his disciples and, even more basic, that we cannot have this unity unless we have unity with God our Father in Christ by his Spirit. Jesus desired that Christian unity should transcend all the present denominational differences and unite his followers in love. The Church must be one in the Spirit of love and holiness.Only real Christian love, implanted by God in the hearts of Christians, can reconcile these real divisions and tear down the barriers that have been erected between denominations. According to the Scriptures, God’s design for humankind is that we recognize that all of us are the children of God, and brothers to one another.  This implies that we live in accord with this divinely inspired insight—that we live in peace, harmony, and unity. Such a true spiritual unification is possible only through the work of the Holy Spirit. 

Unity among Christians is necessary to convince the world of the truth of Christianity. Jesus’ prayer for love and unity inspired Pope St. John XXIII in his desire to call a Council to help break down divisions among contemporary followers of Jesus. In his encyclical on ecumenism,Ut Unum Sint(1995), Pope St. John Paul II cites Jn. 17:21-22 at least five times, stressing that the unity “which the Lord has bestowed on his Church and in which he wishes to embrace all people…stands at the very heart of Christ’s mission” (No. 9), and he urges common prayer to overcome the “painful reality” of Christian division (No. 22). In the same encyclical, he also gives three reasons for Christian unity – first, all Christians should be obedient to Christ’s prayer that “all may be one”; second, it is important to honor the call of the Second Vatican Council, and third, the effective evangelization of the world depends on the united witness of Christians, because division among Christian believers damages our credibility.The Pope does warn against the dangers of compromise for the sake of unity, for “compromise is a contradiction with God who is Truth [70.1].”

Once upon a time, all the colors in the world started to quarrel; each claimed that she was the best, the most important, the most useful, the favorite…
Green said: “Clearly I am the most important. I am the sign of life and of hope. I was chosen for grass, trees, leaves — without me all the animals would die. Look out over the countryside and you will see that I am in the majority.”
Blue interrupted: “You only think about the earth, but consider the sky and the sea. It is water that is the basis of life and this is drawn up by the clouds from the blue sea. The sky gives space and peace and serenity. Without my peace you would all be nothing but busybodies.”

Yellow chuckled: “You are all so serious. I bring laughter, gaiety and warmth into the world. The sun is yellow, the moon is yellow, the stars are yellow. Every time you look at a sunflower the whole world starts to smile. Without me there would be no fun.”

Orange started next to blow her own trumpet: “I am the color of health and strength. I may be scarce, but I am precious for I serve the inner needs of human life. I carry all the most important vitamins. Think of carrots and pumpkins, oranges and mangoes. I don’t hang around all the time, but when I fill the sky at sunrise or sunset, my beauty is so striking that no one gives another thought to any of you.”

Red could stand it no longer. He shouted out: “I’m the ruler of you all, blood, life’s blood. I am the color of danger and of bravery. I am willing to fight of a cause. I bring fire in the blood. without me the earth would be empty as the moon. I am the color of passion and love; the red rose, poinsettia and poppy.”

Purple rose up to his full height. He was very tall and he spoke with great pomp: “I am the color of royalty and power. Kings, chiefs and bishops have always chosen me for I am a sign of authority and wisdom. People do not question me — they listen and obey.”

Indigo spoke much more quietly than all the others, but just as determinedly: “Think of me, you all become superficial. I represent thought and reflection, twilight and deep waters. You need me for balance and contrast, for prayer and inner peace.”

And so the colors went on boasting, each convinced that they were the best. Their quarrelling became louder and louder. Suddenly there was a startling flash of brilliant white lightning; thunder rolled and boomed. Rain started to pour down relentlessly. The colors all crouched down in fear, drawing close to one another for comfort.

Then Rain spoke: “You foolish colors, fighting among yourselves, each trying to dominate the rest. Do you not know that God made you all? Each for a special purpose, unique and different. He loves you all. He wants you all. Join hands with one another and come with me. He will stretch you across the sky in a great bow of color, as a reminder that he loves you all, that you can live together in peace