7th SUNDAY OF EASTER: Jesus Prayed for Unity. [John 17:11-19]
In the Gospel today, Jesus expresses his deep love and concern for His people. Jesus prayed: “I have given them the glory you gave me, so that they may be one, as we are one…when you see me, you have seen the Father.” Jesus reveals to us a mutual relationship, a Christian harmony; we are all called to share, as we are one in Jesus. Jesus has been with the Father from the beginning of time and will be with Him to eternity. That is why Jesus is asking us to mirror the goodness of God, so that when people look at us, they will be reminded of the goodness of God and understand the meaning of love and living.
Jesus came to teach us this truth. It is God, who initiates a loving relationship with us. It is God, who forgives us first when we sin. It is the nature of God to always take the initiative in loving, forgiveness, and reconciliation. This is how God in His power reaches down to establish unity among us. It is in constant loving and forgiving that we can dream for peace and unity. During the last supper discourse with His beloved disciples, Jesus, very specifically speaks about the glory of His Father and the glory Jesus. We might wonder- What is this glory? Jesus speaks about the glory of the cross. How does the cross reveal this glory? Jesus’s glory comes through sacrificing His life for each of us thus showing great love for sinners. Jesus freely and willingly offered up his life out of obedience to Father’s will and love for each of us. On the cross of Jesus, we experience a new way to love- a love that is merciful, sacrificial and generous beyond our human understanding.
As a hospital chaplain I feel and experience God’s glory when I listen and sit with a person with terminal illness in the hospital room, I feel and experience God’s glory when I listen to the stories and pain of the families of a person dying of the COVID-19. I feel and experience God’s glory, when I pray and offer The Sacrament of the Sick to a dying person. Our glory comes from extra acts of love and care and sharing with our brothers and sisters.
Let me share with you an inspiring real story which I heard a few weeks ago. There are two religious’ nuns, Sister Savia and Sister Anjali, from my home state of Kerala in India. Both sisters are medical nurses working in one of the nursing homes in New Jersey. At the beginning of April, I heard that at their nursing home most of the residences were affected by the COVID-19 and few of them had died. All of the staff members stopped coming at the center leaving only Savia and Anjali, and few Polish nuns who runs this nursing home.
In my conversation with Savia over the phone, I suggested that both of them should not go to the nursing home as there would be a great chance that they would test positive for COVID-19. Savia replied, “If we don’t do go who will take care these older residences and they will die without any care.” I was so touched and inspired by the reply of Savia. I was so touched by both of these nuns and the courage, dedication and service to the sick and how much they value their call to the religious life. After a few days both of them called me and said, “We tested positive for COVID-19.”
After a couple of weeks in quarantine, they started going back to the nursing home to take care of the older residence. I am sure the Superior General Rev. Sr. Sebi Rose CSM and Provincial Superior Rev. Sr. Geo Maria CSM and the other Community Sisters when they hear about this powerful story, they are very proud of Savia and Anjali. I know the same Congregation of the Sisters of St. Martha are serving as medical nurses at a nursing home in Connecticut. I am sure they, too, are making the same sacrifices taking care of the older residences. Dear Sisters you are our Front – Line Heroes…… who are faithfully serving and sacrificing your lives for the COVID-19 patients. You are the people to deserve the “Glory of God!”
The Holy Spirit will always guide our Church and inspire us to love and to bear witness to the truth of the Resurrection of Christ and to all that Christ taught. Jesus prayed: “So that they may be one, just as we are one.” Let us work tirelessly to bring everyone to God and bring God’s message of love and peace to the world.
Let us ask ourselves, “When people look at us, are they reminded of the goodness of God? Are we sources of unity and love among our family members and friends?” Let us try to be mirrors of God’s love. We all should work for the unity Jesus is praying for. Let us pray for each other, so that we will not live as peace breakers, but as peacemakers of God! Let us remember the words of St. Mother Teresa: “It is through ministering to sick and suffering that believers behold the Lord and receive His Glory!”