Read Acts 22:30,23:6-11, Ps. 16:1-2,5,7-11, John 17:20-26

“I do not pray for these only, but also for those who believe in me through their word, that they may all be one; even as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee.” (John 17:20-21)

In today’s first reading, Paul is before a tribunal. He knows that he is on trial for the sake of preaching the Gospel. In his farewell speech we read a few days ago, Paul prophesied saying: “The Holy Spirit testifies to me in every city that imprisonment and persecutions are waiting for me.” (Acts 20:23) Bearing witness for Jesus is carrying a cross; it comes with its unique challenges.

Although Jesus describes us as sheep amid wolves, (we are in the world but the world hates us because we don’t belong to this world) Jesus also advised us to be as wise as serpents and innocent and doves. (Cf. Matthew 10:16) Being a Christian does not mean that you should be suicidal. The fact that you know the world hates you does not mean you should freely give them your head to cut. You must use the common sense God put into your head.

When Paul stood before the tribunal, he immediately noticed a severe division between the camps of those who brought him to trial. Applying the serpent's wisdom and the dove's innocence, Paul decided to take advantage of the division between the Pharisees and the Sadducees. Paul introduced himself as a Pharisee who was on trial because of the issue of the resurrection of the dead. The moment he said this, there was an uproar in the assembly.

Paul could no longer be tried because his enemies were busy fighting a war of words. The principle at play here is called ‘divide and rule.’ The British colonialists used it to conquer us in Africa. They emphasized our differences, made us hate each other, and then pretended to help us settle our disputes thereby making themselves rulers over us. The current war in Sudan is a case study.

All these arguments about the Blessed Virgin Mary, the use of images in the church, the number of books in the Bible, etc. etc., what good has it done? You ask if I have given my life to Christ, and I tell you I am a Catholic, the next thing, you start trying to convince me that I will go to hell. You don’t believe in my doctrines, does that stop you from loving me as your fellow Christian? Why this hatred and animosity in our hearts?

We cannot pray or worship the same way or hold the same doctrines but must love one another. No wonder in today’s Gospel passage, Jesus prayed fervently: “May they all be one . . . so that the world may believe that you have sent me.” Disunity is a scandal. If you cannot love your neighbour as yourself just because this neighbour is attending a different church, it means you don’t even know Christ at all.

Let us pray: Come Holy Spirit fill our hearts, and enkindle in us your Sacred Fire. Through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.

Be Happy. Live Positive. Have Faith. It is well with you. God bless you. (Thursday of the 7th week of Eastertide, Bible Study: Acts 22:30,23:6-11, Ps. 16:1-2,5,7-11, John 17:20-26)

@Rev. Fr. Evaristus E. Abu