7thSunday of Easter 2019
I sat down this morning and thought what am I going to say to the people today. It’s the 7thSunday of Easter, the Sunday before the great feast of Pentecost and it’s all good news. But I have to honest with you, I find it much easier to talk about bad news than good news, to talk about sin rather than virtue. Sad, I know!
But then I read the gospel a second time, nothing had struck me the first. On the second occasion something did strike me quite clearly; two themes that were repeated over and over again: unity and love. I suppose love we have come to expect but unity? Less common. Christ’s prayer to his Father is, “May they all be one”, and he repeats this prayer three times. So it’s obviously important to Jesus. And so I ask: are we one? Listen to Christ’s prayer, he’s almost pleading: “Father, may they be one in us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me”. And so I ask again: are we one? Are we one so that the world may believe?
Isn’t it one of the most difficult things in life to be one, to be united? There are so many things that can and do divide us. Take Brexit for example, it has caused so much division within our country, and even within our families. Three of my siblings are pro-brexit and I am anti-brexit. When I play golf with one of my brothers I try to avoid the subject, because we argue and it becomes personal. And this is how divisions begin. One sibling take offense and refuses to forgive. How many weddings and funerals have I been to where certain family members don’t turn up, or are not invited? If it’s not Brexit dividing us it’s the legacy from a will, or relationships or in-laws that have become outlaws.
That’s where the other virtue I mentioned comes into play. Remember I said there were two themes in today’s gospel, unity and love. Just to remind you what Christ said about love, “I have made your name known to them and will continue to make it known, so that the love with which you loved me may be in them”. If we only realized that the love we have been given by God is strong enough to overcome all our divisions. It’s not just any old love; it’s Christ’s love for us. He loved till it hurt; in fact, he loved until he died.
Such love cannot tolerate division. It wants to overcome whatever divides and it is prepared to suffer to do that. If we are to overcome our divisions then we have to overcome our pride. We have to be prepared to say “sorry”. This is probably the most under used word in the English language. We hear love all the time. How many of our pop-songs are about love. You can read endless books about love. Almost every other film we see is about love. But what about forgiveness and that word sorry?
We cannot avoid falling out with people, especially those we are closest to. What takes courage, what takes guts, is to say “I’m sorry. Let’s not fall out”. It takes courage because when we say “sorry” we make ourselves vulnerable and the other may reject us. We should never reject someone who says sorry. Yes, it can be so difficult to mend division. But unless we do we remain divided. Don’t let Brexit divide us. Don’t let family quarrels divide us. Don’t hold on to grudges. Don’t let pride have the last word. Pray for the courage to say sorry. If you love as Christ asks you to, then you will be prepared to do this. “Father, may they be one is us, as you are in me and I am in you, so that the world may believe it was you who sent me”.